This is a critical look at the theoretical underpinnings and practical work of Paulo Freire. Freire's influence over the last two decades of educational research and practice is remarkable. Much of the discourse on education throughout the world makes reference to him. Paulo Freire has joined in writing more than a dozen books. In addition, he is the subject of at least 185 articles from 1971 to 1993. Freire is referenced in the mainstream Prodigy Electronic Grolier Encyclopedia as having designed the most effective of current literacy programs.(2) Now the former education director of the largest city in Latin America, Sao Paulo; Freire is also a leader of the Workers Party in Brazil, "which is influenced by his thought", and an intellectual leader of the Socialist International.(3) Hence, if by the sweep of his fame alone, academic attention to Freire is deserved.
Freire's aim is to simultaneously strike four keys in the struggle for social justice: literacy, or as Freire says, the way we "read the word and the world", critical consciousness, the creation of liberation, and escalating economic production as people come to understand their surroundings. He links literacy, education, production, and social change; a harmony rising from the interrelationships of the four. I suggest that what is miraculous, or Promethean, in his project is not a singular contribution that he has made to any one of these factors in isolation, each of which has been detailed by many predecessors, but the unity and interpenetration that he believes rises from the correct application of each. In short, I believe Freire claims that his sense of literacy leads to critical consciousness (conscientization, a word Freire popularized and later dropped) which foments and buttresses movements for social justice. These movements depend on production and national economic development. And this linkage alone is what has driven the fascination with his undertaking.
For example, in an interview with literacy specialist David Reis, Freire carefully spells out how his position on literacy leads to critical consciousness which leads to, or supplements, revolution--or liberation, an interpenetrating weave in which one factor overlaps all others, but which can reasonably be presented as an equation. Consciousness involves "intentionality toward the world". Freire refers to an "archaeology of consciousness" which masters the word in order to understand and change the world. By discovering the truth--which ever arches ahead of understanding, through literacy techniques--and overcoming the oppression of cultural silence, people become superior to the myths which have chained them, overcome irrationality, and make their own liberation. "So the process of liberation is not a gift which I give to you. I think that the same thing concerns salvation, from the theological point of view."(4)
Freireians Colin Lankshear and Moira Lawler are more detailed. "Literacy has a potential role within attempts by subordinate groups to engage in political action aimed at resisting present inequalities of structural power (and their human consequences) and bringing about structural change."(5)
However, Frank Smith differs with Freire in nuanced ways. While he does signal the relationship of literacy, language and power, he notes in the conclusion of "Whose Language, What Power", an explanation of his largely thwarted efforts to conduct whole language literacy classes in South Africa, that the power of the African National Congress did not grow out of the barrel of an inkwell and, Mandella, "was gaining international authority and recognition, though few people saw anything he had written in English or in any other language".(6) This underlines the problematic links that must be made in constructing a chain of literacy, consciousness and liberation.
Reginald Connolly demonstrates another internal ambiguity. Freire "believes that there is no neutrality in human praxis, and so education is either for domestication or for liberation. If it is for liberation, then the very methods and techniques in use for domestication must be inappropriate....Power is inseparable from education. Those who hold power define what education will be, its methods, programmes and curriculum."(7) But how shall we recognize the resolution of the tension between the needs of those in power, the commonly doctrinaire visions of social change available to most people, and the unlimited stretches of developing critical consciousness?
Freire is the forefather of a vision of education and knowledge which radiates from suggestions he makes in his early articles published in English in 1970, "The Adult Literacy Process as Cultural Action for Freedom" and "Cultural Action and Conscientization", and which are elaborated throughout his continuing work; that is, a profound, complex, and sometimes cryptic self-proclaimed dialectical view of the unity of the construction of knowledge and social change. His vision penetrates a surprising range of fields: social work, ethnography, anthropology, political science, prison reform, and social revolution. There is convincing evidence that Freire influences not only educators like Henry Giroux, Peter McLaren, and Michael Apple but philosophers and practitioners like Stanley Aronowitz and Elaine Browne who reach well beyond his immediate field of adult education and literacy.
Peter McLaren says, "Freire's work has been cited by educators throughout the world and constitutes an important contribution to critical pedagogy not simply because of its theoretical refinement, but because of Freire's success at putting theory into practice."(8) Harvey Graff, in debunking illusions about literacy as, for example, a tool for employment, nevertheless points to Freire as having taken up literacy "as a tool for liberation and social change".(9)
Philosopher Maxine Greene turns to Freire to assist her in defining freedom and humanization as, in his words, "the overcoming of alienation".(10)
Freire deeply influences North American classroom educators. "Rethinking Schools", a monthly newspaper produced by rank and file teachers with a circulation of more than 10,000, reaching directly into the hands of classroom teachers, uses Freire's theories as a matter of routine. Bob Peterson, using Freire's contribution, writes, "There are five characteristics that I think are essential to teaching critical/social justice: A curriculum grounded in the lives of our students, dialogue, a questioning problem/posing approach, an emphasis on critiquing bias and attitudes, and the teaching of activism for social justice."(11)
Jim Walker, co-founder of the Sydney-based "Radical Education Dossier", points out that Freire, who he believes is a the author of a pedagogy which will "turn back and attack the very movement towards humanization and liberation it is designed to promote", is especially effective because he is a voice from the Third World, in a period when Third World voices are uncommonly threatening to international capital.(12)
Freire's ideas now have helped forge history, twenty years of application throughout the world. He is credited with founding a pedagogy "grounded in a powerful awareness of the roots and operation of inequality and hierarchy".(13) His literacy projects, frequently under his own direct supervision and daily involvement, focus for the most part on exploited colonies: Guinea Bissau, Grenada, Tanzania, El Salvador, and Nicaragua. However, Freireian projects have also been put in place in countries like Cuba and South Africa which defy some of the more common notions of colonial status. In addition, Freire's colleagues have attempted to duplicate his work in the decidedly first world of U.S. universities as well as the K-12 arena.
However, Freire seems to have been elevated to the role of, in Aronowitz' words, an "icon", a subject of awe rather than what he would likely prefer, that is, a catalyst for further examination.(14) Study of Freire has often been less than rigorous. There have been limited attempts to critique Freire's theories. Parts of the post-structural left attack him for resorting to crude Western habits like reason and logic while others criticize his ignorance of technology and his stress on individualism rising from his analysis of the relationship of singular consciousness and social action.(15) The liberal left often meets Freire in the only most laudatory and testimonial terms, some flatly obsequious as evidenced by fawning question put to him in his dialogical, "talking", books. This, for example, "Now some people have complained to me, sometimes, that Paulo Freire is such a brilliant teacher, such a gifted facilitator, He's asking all to be like him...what do you say?"(16) Some of Freire's admirers resort to simple wishful reading. Henry A. Giroux, for example, tries to comfortably place Freire in his own post-modern framework in the introduction to The Politics of Education:
"Freire has rightly argued that domination cannot be reduced exclusively to a form of class domination. With the notion of difference as a guiding theoretical thread, Freire rejects the idea that there is a universalized form of oppression....Freire steps outside standard Marxist analysis by arguing that society contains a multiplicity of social relations, which contain contradictions and can serve as a basis from which social groups can struggle and organize themselves". (17)
Yet Freire has repeatedly lauded the most orthodox of available existing Marxisms--and says, "I do believe that what in fact exists universally is struggle, class conflict with, however, differences in the form it takes from one context to another" (18). He has said, in the past, that it is the primacy of class that is the wedge to analyze social systems(19). Even so, in his latest work, Pedagogy of Hope, Freire inverts himself and declares his own postmodernist position, at once a position which elevates gender/sex and race, yet a position which retains a strong sense of class struggle and the need for organization, a position which distinguishes him from most of post-modernism, particularly from Aronowitz.(20) Here, I will concur with the Freire that sees class struggle as the lynch-pin of history and will apply this understanding to his work.
There are few recorded efforts to systematically historicize the narrative of text and life that Freire has contributed in practice. The Freireian methodology is critiqued in theory--inside his texts, but absent the historical underpinning of praxis that Freire himself would insist upon, the methodology cannot be enriched. Without a grasp of praxis, iconicized, reified, Freire's contribution can only turn into its opposite, an idealism, a literacy of literacies rather than a meditation of the world and its political relationships. Freire as the initiator of a pedagogy for liberation could become the point person in the creation of a wider market for education theories which merely build hegemony--and comfortable yet apparently socially conscious careers--in more sophisticated ways.
Hence, I propose to examine questions like whether or not Freire's literacy campaigns enjoy success from on-site study, and whether or not literacy education "for critical consciousness" has empowered, organized, or sustained mass movements toward social justice or democratic equality--or if these goals are actually out of Freire's reach. I hope to contribute to the effort to historicize the links of literacy, consciousness, and fundamental social change by scrutinizing the record of Paulo Freire in a critical way, frequently employing Freire's own methods of criticism, that is, dialectical and historical materialism.
Freire insists his project is dialectical and materialist. Paul Taylor's fine recent work, The Texts of Paulo Freire, underlines Freire's assertion that dialectics and materialism drives much of Freire's work. Taylor argues that Karl Kosik, a Czech communist, had a deep influence on Freire, to the point that Kosik, "brought out the crypto-Marxist in Freire". Taylor proceeds to demonstrate an overview of dialectics and materialism, a view which locates humanity as the potentially conscious creators of history, and places much of Freire's work within that frame.(21) Freire himself in Pedagogy in Process, his sharpest materialist description of human history, traces the Marxist position of the importance of production as a motive of human necessity.(22) Moacir Gadotti, a close collaborator of Freire's, puts Freire's reliance on dialectics in clear terms, "the whole of his theory of conscientization has it's roots in Hegel".(23)
In order to approach the problem that I pose, can and do Freire's theoretical and practical contributions match the promises he and others make; I adopt Freire's method of analysis, dialectical and historical materialism. I offer my understanding of this vision of the world in some detail in the addendum to this chapter. I will historicize Freire as a theoretician, a person, and a practitioner, demonstrating for better or worse that he is a Brazilian of the Workers' Party. Next, I will offer an overview of Freire's explanation of the links between literacy and critical consciousness, production and liberation. In order to understand Freire's theory, one must come to grips with his unique combination of Christianity, Hegelian dialectics, and his appropriation of the Marxist orthodoxy in the Theory of Productive Forces, an amalgamation that allows Freire to embody the dialectical unity of sectarianism and opportunism. Finally, to closely investigate his practice, I will examine his leadership of the Grenadian literacy projects during the period of the New Jewel Movement.
In this vein, I think it is necessary to examine the partisan nature of the history of events. To carry out such a project necessitates the dialectic of quantitative and qualitative research. Demographics and ethnographics require one another to form a research unity. Theoretical propositions must be contextualized in practice. Hence, this study includes history, demographics, and voices. The frozen moments of number counts, always useful, are, I hope, enlivened with the ethnographic statements of actors from whom we can discern, in Geertz's terms, a conspiratorial wink from a flirtatious one, where we can discover what issues are rising up and what ideas are fading away.(24)
To grasp, in a profound way, Freire's practical work, it is necessary to unpack his theoretical convictions. There is a jagged line from Freire to Althusser's and Gramsci's thinking about the dialectic of being and consciousness, from there through the Frankfurt school and it's inheritors, and finally back to Hegel--and God, these latter two at the base of Freire's thinking. In addition, "He has reached out to the thought and experience of those in many different situations and of diverse philosophical positions; he remains a practicing Catholic and still relies, in his words, on "Sartre, Mounter, Eric Fromm, Ortega y Gasset and Mao, Martin Luther King and Che Guevera, Unamuno and Marcuse'". (25)
This remarkable range of thought may explain why Freire is notoriously obscure and apparently contradictory. This interchange should give an indication of Freire's sometimes eclectic ambiguity. In response to a question challenging the notion of an existing external reality, Freire says, " If Peter or John or Mary comes to me and makes a well-structured speech, telling me there is no reality, and if afterwards Charles comes and says, 'Paulo, your pedagogy is totally based on the analysis and transformation of reality, so how do you feel after that speech?' I'd say they are naive." (26)
At base, I will contend Freire is an irrationalist; his stated world view is fundamentally incoherent in theory--but open to analysis in practice. The quest for a systematic understanding of irrationalism, within its own theoretical framework, is difficult for obvious reasons. In Freire, we find theory apparently at odds with itself. However, I will argue that what is here is actually only self-contradictory in limited ways, and is finally in line with Freire's practice. It is important, I believe, to detail more of the ambiguities within Freire to understand at once his rich humanity, and to understand that he may be too content with some contradictions which might lead others in unrewarding directions. Freire insists that education is not neutral and, indeed, that neutrality in education is not desireable. "Washing one's hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral." (27) Yet he contends that at a certain point in his teaching method, the teacher must become neutral, to not tell but question, expecting that the student will spontaneously deconstruct hegemony from experience, as if this were more ethically honest or less directive than a straight-forward prescription. The ethical sense to which he finally turns to explain his decisions is motivated by an unproblematized religious-political view. It remains unanswered, within his texts, as to whether ethics are constructed first in the mind or result from social practice. Freire has never questioned the statement of his ardent co-author, Ira Shor, "A classroom is not a political meeting".(28) Freire repeatedly refers to external political reality as focused by a class analysis but, at the same time, easily subsumes class beneath culture and confuses language with production. Freire's frequent insistence that he is a humble man aside; there is some evidence to show that he participates in the consecration of his own image. John DeWitt, part of a Harvard study group with Freire during the latter's tenure at the university says, "Of course he became an icon. He needed to. He fostered it. He was building himself throughout his stay in Boston. He had to. He had a wife and five or six kids. What was he supposed to do? "(29) Freire is a devout Catholic, a faithful member of the most encrusted institution in the Western world which relies absolutely on mythology, who believes in de-mytholigizing and changing the real world. "Being a Christian, a revolutionary, these are very close. It assumes the total humility of telling me that I am a man trying to become a Christian; I am a Christian. I invite you to think about how much this is a revolutionary statement which is strongly inside the people." (30) His Christianity is balanced by a characterization of the church as an institution which refuses to undergo its own "Easter experience".(31) Freire talks frequently about the relationships of masters and slaves in comments that hint he is combatting feudalism, but never thoroughly addresses the question of racism, not even in Brazil where the historical base of slavery still plagues the struggle for equality.(32) He has never held a wage job and makes the case of the oppressed. He regards time spent at Harvard and Geneva as exile and considers himself a man of the harsh frontiers of Northeastern Brazil, though his fame was won by leaving the area. He declares that he is a revolutionary--and worked with truly orthodox Soviet-camp regimes--yet he spent his most productive years working for the United Nations and the World Council of Churches, and as denouement Freire becomes the Minister of Education of Sao Paulo, Brazil, the largest and most industrialized city of the country, where he was deeply concerned about school building construction. Remarkably, Freire's distress misses the 3,000 homeless children per year murdered by the Sao Paulo police who find them annoying.(33) Freire says, "from the beginning, I have tried to get rid of little primers".(34) Yet, in nearly every instance where he has worked on a literacy project, he has left behind a primer.(35) Freire declares, "I AM a woman", and proclaims his sympathy for the women's movement. But in the same interview says, "I am thinking about buying my wife a computer."(36) Later, he says, "I spent sixteen years in exile, with Elza helping me to survive by looking all over for things that tasted like home cooking.(37) Freire claims his philosophy is always dialectical, always open, but finds no flaw in maintaining that, "Peasants who think critically cannot be manipulated. Critical consciousness and manipulation are irreconcilable".(38) Indeed, he argues, rightly I think, that the issue of cultural invasion is best answered by whether one is correct or incorrect--in the interest of the people or not.(39) Freire calls himself the "Vagabond of the obvious", one who humbly demystifies the veils which hide Oz's wizards; but Freire routinely employs experts from sociology and demography to unpack community power relationships and is prepared to rely on the expertise of usually middle class teachers to lead social deconstruction. He is, from Harvard to Geneva to Sao Paulo, a most privileged vagabond. His work is hardly obvious. Freire himself is not uneasy, finally: "I have the right to be contradictory".(40)
This is not an merely an expose of binary contradictions, but an introductory effort to quickly display the complexity within Freire. There are complexities within his theories and within his behavior that make him difficult to comprehend--or follow in practice. This is what underlies the multitude of appropriations of Freire's work, grasped simultaneously by liberals holding state power, Catholic liberation theologists, and revolutionaries engaged in life and death struggles. Freire is pilfered piecemeal by some who want literacy and a modest dose of consciousness, but no vigorous social change. Sweden, for example, took his techniques, but dodged his politics.(41) And his contradictions can be exploited by both the most orthodox of sectarian leftists, by opportunist liberal reformers, and by technicians--all of who can reasonably lay claim to a selected quote from the master.
Given that his internal contradictions and ambiguities may make him easily misappropriated, Freire's complexity is what leads to the order of the work at hand. It is not possible to take up Freire only on the basis of his texts--which only examines internal contradictions--and expect to use his ideas to further the course of social justice. Only a unitary examination of theory and practice rooted in history can make that possible. It is only viable to appraise Freire, whose words clash into one another, through his own practice and the unchallenged work of those who have, say, religiously, applied his beliefs and techniques. On the other hand, if we grasp his philosophical base, we should be able to broadly predict future outcomes. It is Freire's own position that methodological errors have ideological foundations.(42)
This, then, can lead to a new level of praxis, a higher stage from which to further elevate educational and social struggle. In sum, then, this is an inter-disciplinary effort relying heavily on work outside education like political science, history and sociology. But the assertion is that education offers the prism to focus this theoretical endowment in the praxis of social change. For me, this is where the derivative nature of my field draws its appeal, the opportunity to find content in an inter-disciplinary approach.
Hence, my writing takes this path: I will first present a historical
and chronological picture of Brazil, especially Freire's Northeast, and
Freire himself. This requires some detail if the work is to develop its
own material and intellectual base. I then examine Freire's promises about
literacy (language and power), consciousness, and social justice, and I
argue that what is new here is the unified symphony Freire predicts from
their interplay--when others have seen only isolation or cacophony. I will
then trace Freire's ideological groundings from Christianity through Hegel
to his brands of Marxism. It is my hope to demonstrate the tracks from
history and origins to philosophy. Here I also hope to offer theoretical
explanations for the unity of orthodoxy--sectarianism--and opportunism
in Freire and suggestions for other approaches. I turn next to Freire's
practical work. I concentrate on a particular case: Grenada. Grenada's
experience offers a laboratory of literacy before, during and after a popular
revolution in which Freire was involved and where I have some personal
experience. I conclude with an attempt to focus Freire's contribution to
education and social change--and suggestions for practitioners who hope
to see the struggle continue and succeed. My hope is to present theoretical
and practical proposals drawn from research and experience so there can
be forward movement drawn from historical practice.
In Marx's words, "I am not a Marxist". I prefer his, "criticize everything". Nor am I of presently de rigueur Frankfurt school. I agree with Ruth Wilson Gilmore who says, "One must live a life of relative privilege these days to be so dour about domination, so suspicious of resistance, so enchanted by commodification, so helpless before the ideological state apparatuses to conclude there is no conceivable end to late capitalism's daily sacrifice of human life to the singular freedom of the market." (43) I find the current fascination with the Frankfurt tendency to be more reflective of the crisis of the collapse of the middle class, into which Freire--well off enough to have servants early in life--was born, than a turn to greater understanding.(44) It is curious that movements so consumed with the evils of white European males must rely so heavily on white European males--Hegel to Derrida to Laclau--and turn away from the dramatic work in theory and practice developed in the Third World, especially revolutionary China. In any case, I consider that the stick is important in the construction of hegemony--at least as important as the carrot. What lies behind reward systems, I think, is fear.
Rather than in the Frankfurt tradition, or in line with or the interstices between Freire's other critics, I attempt to find my own place in a dialectical and historical materialism outside both the encrypted orthodoxy that is usually unspoken as Stalinism and the post-modern and ungrounded solely dialectical sense that there is no external reality but merely positions, no working class, no hope for dramatic social change beyond the encapsulated rituals of voting and no rationale for disciplined and organized social action beyond the most marketable forms of nationalism. I remain full of hope for the human trajectory of equality and democracy: in that order.(45) This base becomes important as a tool in unraveling the potential and history of Paulo Freire whose own language is steeped in the tradition of dialectical and historical materialism--in the most orthodox ways.
My hope is founded on my own ideas about history and change, a process which I think is more coherent than not. I believe nothing comes from nothing.(46) Things, people, and ideas, exist, external to you and me. And I believe things change. I believe people can understand, influence, predict, and reflect on things as they change. These processes can be understood and sometimes, indeed often, calculated. There are common truths about the human experience and common questions we ask. How do we explain our society? How do we as people relate to the whole of reality? Is history the history of class struggle? If not, even with the obvious failure of socialism, what other than irrationality prevails? On the other hand, where could hope be found in the disproved orthodoxies of Marxism?
To locate my own view in the most particular referential way, I argue from a stand closest to those developed by Georg Lukacs in The Destruction of Reason and Ira Gollobin in Dialectical Materialism. While I would part company with each in some matters of importance (for example, Gollobin's belief that there is such a thing as a non-antagonistic contradiction, or the Lukacs who slips into his own idealism in History and Class Consciousness--which he, correctly I think, retracted), the reader looking for considerably more detail in the intellectual ground and guide for my view would do well to look there.
Unfortunately, most writing applying dialectical and historical materialism offers no base to the reader from which to work. This is especially true of Freire who is inclined to borrow from Althusser, Mao, Lenin, and Che Gueverra without dissecting the vast differences between the members of the group. In the course of this paper, I will try to demonstrate how Freire employs, and sometimes stumbles on, his interpretation of dialectical materialism.(47) With this in mind, I offer this very brief understanding of dialectical materialism which will counsel my investigation of Paulo Freire.
In the beginning there is the material world. This assertion of the primacy of external matter is, in my view, materialism, and is the base of rationality. Again, as in basic physics, nothing comes from nothing. Things exist and they have a history. The physical world is primary to the mind, yet the mind is part of the physical world. "I am, therefore I think." Ideas are both a reflection of the material world and are themselves a material force. Indeed, ideas become part of the material base of existence when they are acted upon by masses of people.
All things are interrelated, interpenetrating, interdependent. Nothing is random, nothing isolated. As Freire often says, "The word can only come from the world".(48) Interrelationship, mutual dependence, and interpenetration form the foundation of totality, that is, the completion of reality.
Dialectics comprise the study of contradictions--and how things change. I have said things exist, apart from the mind. Now I assert that things change. Matter is in constant motion. All things are also processes. All things are composed of contradictions.
The key historical material reality is production. People must work to live. Within this reality is the present key contradiction, the contradiction between collective nature of production, and private, individual ownership of what is produced. This gives rise to privilege, social classes, and class struggle--and "every idea is stamped with the brand of class".(49) This is the source of the contradiction which drives much of Freire's work, domination versus humanization, or, in Marx, exploitation and revolution. To misread or ignore the material base is to button the wrong button--everything that follows is amiss.
In studying motion, which derives from contradictions (action and reaction for example, there are helpful principles which aid in the understanding of things in flux.
The main principle is the unity and struggle of opposites (for Mao, "one divides into two, in all things").(50) This simply means that all things are made up of internal oppositions, plus and minus in mathematics, sound and silence in music, or, in literacy and social change, critical consciousness versus technical training. If all ideas are stamped with the brand of class, then the ideas which all people hold are in constant struggle: the individualism represented by capitalism for example versus the collectivity also required by capitalist forms of production. Or, to go on, the need of capitalist profiteering to promote racism contradicted by the discoveries of even bourgeois science, both played out in the minds of masses of people.
Within contradictions, struggle is permanent, unity temporary. Internal motion is primary over external. To unlock questions of matter, which is simultaneously made up of many contradictions, it is necessary to find the main contradiction, that which drives the rest, and the primary side of that contradiction (which side will prevail?).
The second principle is that quantity becomes quality. The classic example used here is degrees of heat added to water to make steam. Quantitative changes add up to a qualitative leap, again, steam. Of course, the quantity added must be the right quantity. Adding rocks to water does not make steam. In the struggle over ideas, the repetition of racist messages in advertising or the mass media is likely to have a qualitative impact on mass behavior.
The third principle might be called the reinvention of the new (in the classics, the negation of the negation). First, this means that when change occurs, it is irrevocable, not circular, but that which is new, steam, or a higher stage of political or social consciousness, carries forward aspects of the old--a spiral. The steam has aspects of the old water, yet it is an entirely new form of matter, can never be restored to what it was, and embodies new contradictions of its own; so too with literacy (a newly literate reader of print is a new, yet also the old, person) social consciousness, and social change. The revolutionary struggles to crush slavery in fact ended slavery as a world system, never to return; yet vestiges of slavery remain, in racist ideology and in remnants of slave based practice, for example, in the migrant fields in Belle Glades, Florida.(51)
In order to comprehend things as they change, it is helpful to virtually photograph them, to freeze them as they pass in motion, a process which is necessarily limited but can support an enriched understanding of the profound intricacies of matter in motion. Hence, we create categories of dialectics which are, within and between themselves, composed of contradictions, interpenetrating with one another. Each of these contradictions, then, is related to the others, and contains within it a primary and secondary side. Categories of dialectics, to enhance analysis, include:
a. Appearance and essence: Knowledge flows from the external to the internal, growing richer as it progresses in depth. The folk saying, "You can't judge a book by its cover," applies here. Racists elevate appearance to the level of essence, arguing that people think with their skin.
b. Form and content: The folk homily, "beauty is as beauty does", is apropos here. Form influences content, but content determines the nature of matter. Racists made a fetish of head size, cranial bumps, etc., and missed the more critical content of the humanity they approached.
c. Relative and absolute: in science, truth is relative and absolute at the same time; gravity exists, but only relative to the objects at hand. While truth is finally a partisan question, linked to the necessity to retain power and privilege, truth is also absolute. Dialectical materialism contends, for example, that it is in the interest of elites to obscure social reality, while insurgents need to expose it, as in the case of racism. Moreover, in the abstract, our grasp of matter is necessarily relative, in that it is possible to apprehend matter in passing, yet it is possible to be sufficiently certain of reality to act.
d. Finite and Infinite: infinity can only be made up of finites. Things exist as they are, for specific moments, but things change infinitely. The concept of race is finite in human history, important and a matter of life and death now, but limited to a particular epoch.
e. Possible and Actual: Things are simultaneously what they are and what they can be. A seed can become a flower. A seed cannot become an airplane. The possible rises out of the internal nature of the matter at hand. Racism directed at the Vietnamese, for example, denied both poles of this contradiction, on the one hand it denigrated the actual abilities of the Vietnamese people and leveled them as inhumans, "gooks", on the other hand, it denied the possibility of masses of people united around a common idea--even when faced with the most technologically advanced society in the world.
f. Chance and Necessity: People are born into specific locations within our social structure by chance. Their actions rise, frequently, from necessity which rises from the social position of their birth. It is chance that millions are born to hunger. It is necessity that they struggle for food. All things necessarily change but the means of their change can appear to be accidental. Sperm meets the egg, and vice versa. Pollen meets the seed.
g. Particular and the General: Generalities are made possible by the study of the particularities of matter, and weaving the specifics into verifiable patterns. In The U.S., racism is a special kind of problem, different in each case, for Japanese people, Korean people, Afro-American people, Native American people, Chinese people, multi-racial people, and white people (each with varying problem also related to varying levels of coloration); but the general problem of racism remains largely the same.
h. Likeness and Difference: People, as a whole, are more alike than different. However, racism, rooted in the anti-scientific views of eugenics, falsely elevates difference over likeness. Liberalism, on the other hand, ignores antagonistic material class interests and elevates the vision of "humanity" over opposing forces of contention.
i. Cause and effect: Dialectical materialism seeks to locate the causes behind symptomatic effects, and properly applied, looks for causes in the material world. Racism means death.
j. Objective and Subjective: The objective is external reality. The subjective is comprised of the effort to comprehend and act on reality. When they coincide, a new reality is created. When the subjective effort misses the objective target, things go wrong, Little Big Horn for example.
k. Theory and Practice: Practice is the beginning and end of the knowledge cycle which moves from initial perception to abstraction to action and reflection. The effort toward unity of theory and practice, praxis, is the test which distinguishes dialectical materialism from other philosophical visions which, finally appeal to faith. Theoretical anti-racism is impossible in the absence of anti-racist practice.
Laws and categories of dialectics are convenient fictions placed on
a reality which is infinitely intricate and ever-changing. Every analysis
captures a moment which is complex--and gone, and all analysis is influenced
by the social reality of exploited labor and class struggle. Hence, all
ideas are incomplete, partisan, engraved with the motivations of class.
Our grasp on reality is tested and enriched only through practice. And
each category of dialectics, depending on the historical moment, has a
dominant side. For example, in the case of theory and practice, I believe
practice usually moves ahead of theory. The material world changes more
rapidly, and is more rich in complexity, than our understanding of it.
However, depending on material conditions, which include ideology, theory
can force practice forward. The strength of dialectical materialism, finally,
is that it is the only vision of the world which calls for a rational examination
of itself by human beings, without resorting to mysticism and calls for
faith. At this historical juncture, we have competing ideological proposals
driven by competing material interests at work in the interpretation of
truths, questions, and especially change. But the debate of the last several
centuries remains fundamentally unchanged: is the world a construction
of the mind or is it external to people? From this flows a series of debates
over whether or not reality can be comprehended, whether or not there are
a variety of wedges to use to drive into an understanding of history. I
suggest, in contrast to some of Freire's writing, that what underlies material
interest is, sweeping above all, not a melange of sex/gender, race and
nation, but social class.
I argued at the outset that the crux of what is seductive in Freire is the Promethean formula Freire urges on educators and agents of change. This formula involves the interaction of literacy, critical consciousness (conscientization), liberation and production or national economic development. Freire's construct overlaps with Marxist (social democratic) and Christian views of organizing for social change.
There is little new in Freire's proposal absent this formula. For example, Plato believed that literacy enabled people "to learn to examine and evaluate objectively both the world and themselves".(52) What is new is the claim to interrelationship. As an organizing tactic, that literacy instruction should rise out of the surroundings of participants, that participants should not be treated contemptuously, that what they read should be drawn from their lives, and that well-motivated people can learn to read, even phonetically: this is not out of line with much writing in the field back to Dewey and Nearing--and further, even the Jesuits.(53) That it is to the advantage of people to strip away those ideological veils which encourage them to act in contrast to their own interests predates Marx--indeed that too goes to an early Christian claim. That social inequality buttressed by ideological pillars grates against any form of justice or hope for peace is Biblical, as is the call to take corrective action for a better world. This is the thinking embedded in liberation theology based on the New Testament.(54)
An analysis of slave rebellions should show literacy in and of itself is not necessarily a motor for social change. Indeed, Literacy instructor Elspeth Stuckey argues that literacy is far more likely to be a Trojan Horse, a tool for obfuscation, than mechanism for resistance.(55) Freire recognizes this possibility of the inversion of knowledge as well when he warns of the potential of counter-revolution through anti-dialogical education bureaucracies, "which undermine the revolution".(56) For Freire, illiterate cultures, those which do not read and write printed words, while perhaps equal to literate cultures in every other way; are most surely less powerful. While he is careful to demonstrate respect for oral cultures, Freire never proposes that critical consciousness is fully realizable, actuated, in the absence of the grasp of the written word. Nor has he ever been suggested that liberation is conceivable without written bearings. It is the linkage of these elements, literacy, consciousness, production, and revolution, and its promotion through organizations like the World Council of Churches and groups like the Workers' Party as the catalyst, that is seen to be remarkable and results in what Giroux calls "a language of critique and possibility".(57) Although Freire frequently relies on language as the basis of change, he goes well beyond undeclared possibilities and urges specific actions that are matters of life and death. Freire's practice, if not detailed in his theory, suggests that he accepts revolutionary violence in the name of social justice.(58) At base, this would indicate Freire's formula for social change through literacy and consciousness is an extraordinarily serious proposition.
In this section, I will demonstrate that the Promethean formula I have suggested is indeed Freire's. As I elaborate on the formula, I will open the discussion on Freire's ideological stand, the role of idealism undermining dialectics. In following chapters, I will discuss Christian roots in the concern of language over matter, move on to Hegel, Marx, and incorporate Freire's practice especially as it relates to Grenada. Finally, I will look at the writing market which has grown outward from Freire and argue that his voice is, sharper than any other, the voice of a particular class--the middle class in crisis--with a particular social vision that rises from its material interests. Yet I will insist that the value in his works lies in the reconstructed application of the process which he promotes, dialectical materialism.
The Promethean formula that Paulo Freire says leads to liberation interweaves literacy, consciousness, production, and liberation. I think there may be little serious controversy about the issues of literacy, consciousness, and liberation, at least taken individually. There should be inconsiderable dispute about Freire constructing the interrelationship of three factors: literacy, consciousness and liberation. After all, books titled "Pedagogy of the Oppressed", "Education for Critical Consciousness", "Literacy, Reading the Word and the World", "The Politics of Education", are headed in a rather definite direction. There is probably a good reason for some commotion about what direction that might be--at least if we stick only to Freire's theory. And there is textual debate about Freire's sense of production as it relates to critical consciousness which must be unpacked. Therefore, to lay the ground, I will review Freire's key discussions about literacy, consciousness, and liberation. I will critique the junctures that Freire creates which he believes are both anti-elitist and directive. I will show how the factors of the formula interrelate. I demonstrate that Freire does in fact incorporate the function of education as an instrument of production into the picture. I will position Freire's ideas about the role of literacy and education in movements for social change.
It is important to keep in mind, though, that literacy, consciousness, liberation, and production are intricately intertwined in Freire, so much so, it is nearly a matter of watching a film frame by frame to separate one element from the next. Freire says literacy is "an effort to liberate...not another instrument to dominate", which means it is a process imbued with politics in each of its steps.(59) Literacy is a political issue, related to and designed to restructure consciousness, which is meant to lead to liberation. Even so, as in the process of codifying categories of dialectics which are likewise tied together, it is helpful to seek to momentarily isolate one issue from the next, to freeze a frame, to gain a more particular understanding of the process as it unfolds.
Literacy, for Freire, rises first in spoken language, itself an effort to grasp and act on the environment. "Learning to read and write means creating and assembling written expression for what can be said orally."(60) But there is an intensified sophistication built into the process of reading, a sophistication which leads beyond the reflection of the world and toward the recreation of the world with a greater sense of understanding.
"This movement from the world to the word and from the word to the world is always present, even the spoken word flows from our reading of the world. However, we can go further and say that reading the word is not merely preceded by reading the world, but by a certain form of writing it, or re-writing it, that is, of transforming it by means of conscious practical work. For me, this dynamic is central to the literacy process".(61)
This is related to the Hegelian dialectical notion of humanity described by Georg Lukacs, paraphrasing Marx, which insists that it is "not enough that though tend toward reality, the reality must itself move in the direction of the thought", in other words, one determinant always influences and often becomes the other determinant.(62) In Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Freire refers to Lukacs' interpretation of this dialectical movement and carries it further still, "action is human only when it is not merely an occupation but also a preoccupation, when it is not dichotomized from reflection".(63) So reading, writing, and re-writing is, for Freire, a highly charged political process, an act which exposes the designs of oppressors on the one hand, yet creates and recreates the newly literate on the other. This means literacy must be driven by particular content. Freire sees the mechanical process of literacy as insufficient. It is not enough to simply decode print; what must be addressed is the relationship of power, knowledge, and signals of reality which are designed to delude or disclose, and then to act on that understanding. In addressing mechanical decoding, Freire distinguishes illiteracy from political illiteracy.(64) Language is, for Freire, enwrapped in a struggle for authenticity, a struggle toward the truth and action designed to enrich truth. The word is, "the essence of dialogue itself...There is no true word that is not at the same time praxis. Thus to speak a true word is to transform the world". (65) Literacy itself is built on consciousness already present and which is:
"...a consequence of men's beginning to reflect on their capacity for reflection about the world, about their work, about the power to transform the world, about the encounter of consciousness itself, which thereby ceases to be something external and becomes part of them...I see validity only in literacy projects in which men understand words in their true significance, as a force to transform the world." (66)
So the method of teaching people to read the word is intricately tied up with Freire's desire for people to read and act on the world. Form is driven by the content which Freire calls "problem-posing", itself a concept which is finally fixed by its own content over its form.(67) Indeed, Freire believes one, form, is drawn from the other, content, yet they flow one into the next. Freire's method for literacy, best presented in Education for Critical Consciousness, involves five phases: (1) research into the spoken language of the subjects with emphasis on the discovery of words which are culturally, politically, and phonetically familiar, yet useful as a base for phonetic expansion and political discussion, (2) selection of generative words which will syntactically and politically make possible reading instruction, that is, words which can be manipulated to create other words and expand meanings constructed by participants, (3) the selection of codifications into which the generative words are fitted, that is, "representations of typical existential situations of the group..which open perspectives for the analysis of regional and national problems", (4) the "elaboration of agendas" sufficiently flexible to meet the needs of the group, and finally (5) the "preparation of cards with the breakdown of phonemic families which correspond to the generative words.(68) Dialogue with the subjects as a group begins at phase two when researchers begin to revise the agenda they have established and makes codification possible.
To put this method in relief, education researcher Carol Edelsky in "Literacy, Some Purposeful Distinctions", begins to critique Freire's approach, when she asks whether the students are "subjects or objects or both?" She notes that much of the reading instruction is comprised of exercises, a practice she sees as often at odds with the development of interactional knowledge, yet she gives Freire the benefit of the doubt in that he is on a quest for more than "instruction for instruction's sake", that is, for critical consciousness. Still, Edelsky suggests that it is quite possible the Freireian dialogue is contradicted by exercises in reading--like the phonemic flash cards Freire develops with his students that only construct words from words, not for meaning--other than the initial meanings determined significant by researchers--which serve to divert real communicative purposes.(69)
Beyond this, interestingly, there has been but modest debate about the literacy method itself, and the bulk of Freire's writing focuses on the purpose of the method, and the tactical process which underlies it, rather than precisely how things are accomplished. There is little outcry from the whole language movement criticizing Freire's phonetic approach (which may be more useful in Portuguese but which has been adopted uncritically in English speaking countries like Grenada), the use of flash cards, or the questionable interactiveness of setting the agenda through expert research. This may be because Freire is indeed iconicized, or because many whole language theoreticians and practitioners agree with Freire's politics, in Edelsky's words, that, "literacy should be for repairing a society which only works for the few", and are willing to ignore what they perceive as secondary differences.(70) In either case, there is a considerable body of evidence within the whole language contribution that the construction of meaning clashes irrevocably with the focal concentration on phonics that appears in Freire's work, and that, according to Constance Weaver, "students may be able to do isolated skills work without difficulty, yet not be able to construct meaning effectively".(71) Students using a phonics-centered approach are given information in fragments, disjointed parts, which prevents them from understanding how language molds and shapes meaning. The student is left with contrived, contradictory and artificial rules which deny the subtleties of language like graphophonics and the value of skills like predicting. The whole language argument, when made most sharp, is that the form of instruction, in this case phonics as the centerpiece rather than a sub-heading, goes beyond influencing the content, rather in this case it determines and subverts it--wrenches construction of meaning from the hands of the learner and locates it solely in the hands of the instructor who alone is in possession of the rules. While Freire has largely escaped disparagement from this quarter, he has, on the other hand, attacked "Romantic" or simply interactive and "Cognitive", or problem-solving approaches to literacy which he suggests are, respectively, unable to deal with the political questions and fail to make problematic "class, gender or racial inequalities" and, on the other hand, cannot resolve questions of "cultural reproduction...they are rarely able to engage in thorough critical reflection".(72) In other words, Freire negates these approaches because, in avoiding the political nature of literacy instruction, they tend to recreate things as they are. It is the content, again, which determines the worth of the form. Always, for Freire, the crux is the construction of a literacy programs "tied not only to mechanical learning of reading skills but, additionally, to a critical understanding of the overall goals for national reconstruction".(73) In sum, for Freire, the content of the literacy program finally stands above the form and this is what makes his program more effective, again, in his mind, liberating. This also explains why it is that the bulk of his writing is not directed toward his literacy method, but to his political vision, organizing strategies, and tactics.
Freire argued his method was effective early on. In Education for Critical Consciousness, he claims readers in his initial projects using this method were reading beyond the hesitant capacities of most beginners. Then he credits Elza Freire with the notion that because their method of education was rooted in an anthropological understanding of their culture, students, "Discovered themselves to be more fully human, thereby acquiring an increasing emotional confidence in their learning which was related to their motor activity."(74) There is no record of research following up on this striking assertion. Nevertheless, Freire's belief that there is data demonstrating that people have learned to read and learned to read in a problem-posing way itself poses its own series of questions, that is, what drives the program beneath its politics, what transcends the interests of instructors and students, what is the particular method of application, and why does it work
Here I turn to concentrate on Freire's answers: the creation of motivation, dialogue, the use of particular kinds of primers, and the curriculum within Freire's literacy program.
John Dewitt, a Detroit literacy instructor and Freire biographer, joins Freire in recognition of the critical nature of motivation in literacy programs by commenting, "Those who have a why to read can bear almost any how".(75) While Dewitt contends it makes little difference what method is used with motivated people, Freire is clear on the issue of inspiration in a discussion with Myles Horton, a community organizer, educator, and adult literacy specialist in his own right. Freire says, emphatically, "Do you see the power of interest, of motivation?"(76) Moreover, Freire notes that UNESCO reports show that "programs of adult literacy have been efficient in societies in which suffering and change created a special motivation in the people for reading and writing".(77) The special motivation to which Freire refers here is linked to an increased sense of potency related to the possibilities of literate understanding. Freire argues that people must be convinced that there is a relationship between their literate, politically literate, ability to comprehend print and the power they can exert in the world.
Freire outlines a three pillars of an appropriate literacy campaign, much like those of organizing campaigns: a firm knowledge of the community, the particular students, and the educator's knowledge of herself. He works, in each instance, from an understanding of the particular to the general, literacy and consciousness aimed first at individuals, then designed for a group.(78) First, he discovers the issues that capture the attention of the individuals of the community, then relates that to the community as a whole, as in individual interest in community irrigation, but then he immediately focuses on how it is that issue relates to the needs of the individual participants in the instruction group.
It is through dialogue that illiterates are expected to grow motivated and to transform their vision of words and their actions in the world into a new form of literacy. Dialogue is the factor that mediates the relationship between the teacher and the student, in Freire's practice, often an upper middle class instructor with considerable expertise and a working class or peasant student. Dialogue is the connection of the knowing with what is coming to be known, the negotiation of reality, the struggle for a true understanding of reality, and the subsequent recreation of reality through knowledge. "Dialogue is the loving encounter of people, who, mediated by the world, 'proclaim' that world".(79) For Freire, it is through debate and discussion, which rises from the students' experience and avoids manipulation via the instructor's ethical stance, that literacy is constructed. The dialogue itself is pushed by the students' recognition of pictures from their surroundings, their choice of words to represent the pictures, and their extended ability to capture the world through the connection of drawings and print.(80) Still, again to put Freire's position in relief, Paul Taylor, an incisive analyst of Freire's texts, notes that there is frequently a remarkable directiveness here in that it is the instructor's choice of picto-graphs which serve as a center of the dialogue and it is the instructor who writes while the students read in the Freireian method. Hence, those who write, those who do re-shape the world and the word, are finally the experts. Taylor claims this is manipulative in itself.(81)
Freire makes this accusation interesting, "In rejecting manipulation, I would never accept thoughtless spontaneity".(82) In other words, the literacy he is teaching, its content, has a course to follow, is not blowing with the winds in the classroom. Again, while Freire is stressing the problem-posing form of his literacy instruction, which is tactically at least intended to gain the motivation and interest of the student, he has not lost his sense of the central role of political content. This is a relationship worth working through as it appears again in Freire's beliefs regarding the links of leaders of revolutionary vanguards and the mass of people. At once, Freire suggests that the frequently vast class differences between teachers and students can be overcome by good will and a proper political position through which the tactical link is made, without manipulation, by drawing the students into a deliberate and specific understanding of their surroundings. Language, for Freire, overcomes the vast gap of material interests of the state, the instructor, and the student. But this dialogue and promise is not rooted in nothing. It is based on his analysis of what is good for people, that is, Freire believes love for the people can mediate an ethical stance which must strike beyond class borders.(83) A loving curriculum is thus transcendent, beyond traditional political bounds. Yet Freire also contends no education is neutral and none can be endlessly open--offering all datum as options for the students course. Not only is it impossible to invite every alternative, it is clear that Freire is willing to withhold some options for the purpose of political expediency. Taylor demonstrates that Freire is quite prepared to censor political bad news. He deliberately left out a letter from his "Letters to Guinea Bissau", a letter from Freire to Cabral criticizing Cabral for imposing literacy programs in the colonial, dominant, language.(84) Literacy programs, in Freire's view, are clearly subordinate to the policies of the social democratic party and, hence, production, "...literacy education should become concrete through projects in areas where in accordance with the polices of the party carried out by the government, certain changes in the social relations of production are either already taking place or are about to be initiated."(85) The objectives finally serve as the sextant, "You lose the objective of your dreams when you become spontaneous".(86)
This is not to say the teacher in a capitalist school should abandon literacy instruction in favor of revolutionary rhetoric, "..we cannot neglect the task of helping students to become literate, choosing instead to spend most of the teaching time on political analysis...Clearly those who are illiterate need to learn to read and write." Still, Freire concludes, "reading and writing words encompasses the reading of the world...critical understanding."(87) So, we return to the position that education is not neutral, none of it; and what is at hand is the appropriate literacy method and the content of critical understanding.(88) This is a weave that is simply impossible to untwine.
Freire might agree. He says, "Look, my political position is A, B, C. This political position requires that I maintain consistency between my discourse and my practice".(89) At base, Freire says, "A person is literate to the extent (that they) use language for social and political reconstruction".(90) At issue for Freire is change: in whose interests shall we conduct literacy classes, based on what ideological structure, toward what ends?
At least in post-revolutionary periods, Freire sees literacy programs as part of the mass line of the party which he describes in form as "anti-elitist".(91) This means that people should read, and read critically, but their critical reading is largely confined by the revolutionary party's mass line. In Guinea- Bissau, this meant coordinating the literacy programs with the political content of positions taken by the local revolutionary party, thus " an indispensable relation is established between the adult literacy programs and the political committees..." This clear direction, the political view underlying the purpose of the party program, other than that the link between the literacy program and the people and the party is meant to erode elitism, is left unproblematized in any detail; anti-elitism, for example, would not on the face of it distinguish a Maoist from a Trotskyite.(92)
The line of the party, of course, would reflect on the use of primers or the books "which reinforce a passive, receptive attitude which contradicts the creative act of knowing".(93) Freire distinguishes primers from "reading texts which do not set up a certain grouping of graphic signs as a gift and cast the illiterate in the role of the object rather than the subject of his literacy".(94)
Instead, Freire prefers texts which are "a part of a visual-graphic channel of communication and which in great part should be elaborated by the participants themselves."(95) In other words, acceptable primers, textbooks, are drawn from the particular surroundings and interests of the students, mediated by the needs of political change. These reading texts are the documents which Freire has left behind in Grenada which we will examine below. However, Freire's development of generative terms and themes is work accomplished by demographers, sociologists, experts whose role is as much to guide the political content of the meetings as to openly structure their form. It is the use of dialogue, again, which is meant to ensure their ethical linkage with the material interests of the students, an enigmatic ideological link of language and materiality.(96)
In any case, the direction of the literacy project, which is of primary interest here, is that hope lies in the fact that "educational practice is always directive" and that the potential elitism in directiveness is absolved by the common interests of the students and the instructors who are made equal by discussion and love.(97) But it is necessarily through literacy that consciousness can be constructed which will lead to a liberating vision.
The nature of the dialogue is what forms the basis of critical consciousness. "Conscientization occurs within the literacy or post-literacy process".(98)
Freire's construction of the word "conscientization" itself has an important history and is the subject of debate in many literacy classes. Conscientization is a mix of Latin derivatives which link conscience, "knowing along with another, knowledge within oneself", but which has also come to represent "inward knowledge", to conscious which also has roots in, "knowing something with others, knowing in oneself", and on to consciousness, "knowledge as to which one has the testimony within oneself, esp., of one's own innocence, guilt, etc..."(99) Freire takes up consciousness as, "never a mere reflection of but a reflection upon material reality. If it is true that consciousness is impossible without the world that constitutes it, it is equally true that this world is impossible if the world itself in constituting consciousness does not become an object of its critical reflection".(100)
Consciousness, for Freire, is a task of "denouncing and working against the dominant ideology...This unveiling is one of the mains tasks..to illuminate reality..To make reality opaque is not neutral. To make reality lucid is not neutral".(101) While literacy is a skill which recreates human thought, critical consciousness is a particular and desireable way of addressing and recreating reality. For Freire, critical consciousness does not occur spontaneously, but is built under special conditions with specific goals. He emphasizes that, "Critical consciousness represents the development of the awakening of critical awareness. It will not appear as a natural by-product of even major economic changes, but must grow out of a critical educational effort based on favorable historical conditions".(102) The towering role of ideology, the crucial task of the educational effort, is an important sign-post of Freire's vision of the power of political ideas.
Again, as in the content-driven directiveness of literacy, so the directiveness of the project toward an express kind of consciousness, "There is a directiveness which never allows education to be neutral...the educator cannot wait for the students to initiate their own forward progress into an idea or understanding..the educator must do it."(103) The crux of the matter, for Freire, is the educator's political position, ethically applied through dialogue, toward proper ends.(104)
Freire felt, at a certain point, the term conscientization was being reified, turned meaningless, and he claims he abandoned its use. He has said that, "Conscientization is one of the weakest parts of my work...I neglected the problem of social classes and their struggle, I opened the door to every sort of reactionary interpretation and practice".(105) Freire here turns to a discussion of the importance of revolutionary organization, and the vital role of critical consciousness in that project.
Still, what Freire claims he strives for is: "the critically transitive consciousness..characterized by depth in the interpretation of problems, by the substitute of causal principles for magical explanations, by the testing of one's findings, and by openness to revision.."(106)
Freire believes that to be critical is to be engaged in struggle, "We should not submit to the text or be submissive in front of the text. The thing is to fight with the text, even though loving it, no? To engage in conflict with the text".(107)
Critical consciousness aims at the sense of totality signaled by Lukacs above, and the notion of social change that strains through all of Freire's work. "A critical approach addresses interrelationships, in a critical classroom this means going beyond the sub-system of education and becomes criticism of society".(108)
More, "a permanently critical attitude integrates a person into the possibility of action to create history, rather than being crushed, maneuvered by myths, which powerful sources have created...The more men accurately grasp causality, the more critical their understanding of reality will be".(109) Understanding of reality is held together with a grasp of class struggle. When discussing what it is a critically conscious group of students should know, Freire says, "they will...know the history of the working class, and the role of people's movements in remaking society...The working class has a right to know its geography and its language--or rather a dialectical understanding of language in its dialectical relationship with thought and world..."(110) John Dewitt, as I have shown, indicates Freire believes that a truly critically conscious person simply cannot be fooled.
The process in reaching critical consciousness is nonetheless important. Freire argues that "Liberatory education is fundamentally a situation where the teachers and the student both have to be learners, both have to be cognitive subjects, in spite of being different. This is for me the first test, for teacher and students both to be critical agents in the act of knowing."(111) Here Freire points back to his early concept of critical education as an attack on "banking" education, that is, the form of education which locates knowledge solely in the educator and the institution, which denies the interaction and reconstruction of knowledge in the interpretation and use of texts. In addition, Freire also attacks the belief that the students bring no knowledge to the classroom and are there simply to withdraw from an account of ideas held by the instructor. In his most recent, Pedagogy of Hope, Freire reminisces about a game he used to rupture this process with a group of students who insisted that he was, after all, the expert. Freire drew a line on a blackboard, cutting the board in half. He proposed the he trade questions with the group, and that they keep score on the board. His first question to them, "What is the Socratic Mineutic?", scored a goal for Freire. Their first to him, "What's a contour curve got to do with erosion", scored one for the class. This exchange proceeds for twelve goals, one for each side, a tie, the class leaving convinced of their own bank of knowledge, and abilities.(112)
Freire builds, therefore, a sense of the self-worth of the students and their own knowledge, uses their knowledge system as a base for literacy projects, and aims the literacy projects at goals which can be reached by a variety of paths. This then is the consolidation of literacy and consciousness, the inextricable braid of print literacy and consciousness that impels the Freire project. The combination positions the student with a reconstructed view of reality.
Nevertheless, although critical consciousness is an important step on the path, even while one may be impenetrable to deception, one is not yet whole without concrete political action, and without socialism. "A more critical understanding of oppression does not yet liberate the oppressed, but (it) is the right direction"...The revelatory, gnosiological practice of education does not itself effect the transformation of the world, but it implies the transformation of the world".(113)
Beyond this is the transformation of the world in specific ways. Literacy education "is not the same thing as changing reality itself. No. Only political action in society can make social transformation, not critical study in the classroom. The structures of society, like the capitalist mode of production, have to be changed for society to be transformed".(114)
Thus, we are left with the understanding that Freire does indeed believe literacy, consciousness, and education are irretrievably chained together, interlaced in a project to, in Freire's words, "create an education destined for freedom". (115)
Freire's formula interrelates liberation, freedom and production in much the same way that literacy lays the foundation for consciousness. Consciousness, critical consciousness, is expected to be led toward revolutionary action. National economic development forms the basis for liberation. Because Freire hesitates on the question of development, perhaps recognizing a basic unresolved contradiction in his theory and practice, I can make this case far more easily through Freire's practice. But proof lies within Freire's theoretical framework too. For example, in Freire's earliest work, Education for Critical Consciousness, he makes it very clear that he supports the "battle for development, which urgently required an increase in technical personnel at all levels", but he adds, "neither could we afford to lose the battle for humanization of the Brazilian people." (116) In a later period, a time when I think Freire adopted a more radical stance in regard to revolution, he again underlines the importance of technological development and ties technological development to the intellectual process:
"Considering that technology is not only necessary but also a part of man's natural development, the question facing revolutionaries is how to avoid technology's mystical deviations."(117)
Freire strongly believes education plays a key role in ameliorating the differences between revolutionary leaders and the mass of people. Freire contends that it is through the spiralling dialectic of understanding, the increased consciousness and hence power offered by education systems, that the historical differences of educators, political leaders, and the masses can be transcended. Through the education system, "I think that the rediscovery of power has to do with attempting to reduce the gap between the party which speaks on behalf of and the sectors on behalf of which it speaks".(118)
It is important to follow this theoretical thread for a moment. Freire goes on to worry through what he sees as the necessity of permanent cultural revolution as a solution to the contradiction of elite technological control within a humanitarian project and shifts to a rather unfortunate Christian metaphor of the people and the leaders occupying "one body", encased in an analysis of the wholly ideological unity of post-revolutionary dominants and the mass of people.(119) This reflects the potential of over-arching idealism, the belief that ideas can form the originating basis of reality, in Freire. Freire's term "cultural revolution" clearly references the Chinese Cultural revolution, which is regularly addressed uncritically in Freire, in the sense that it was a step forward.(120) The Cultural Revolution did not happen because of a mutual loss of love.(121) The failure of the Chinese Communist Party to reach into the masses, to become one with the people, was the central issue of the upheaval. The crux of the Chinese cultural revolution was precisely what Freire hopes to overcome--in his mind--not in practice; that is, the Chinese cultural revolution was about the bureaucratization of the Chinese Communist Party rising from the growing privileges of the party leadership whose interests had become inimical to the interests of the mass of people.
Freire sometimes seeks to resolve this issue by explaining that politically correct national economic development is actually not development, but modernization. He argues that modernization is true national economic development while simple development is the crudest form of imperialism--or that development taken up in an authoritarian way is simple modernization.(122) In any case, at "a given moment the emphasis on industrialization gives rise to a nationalist ideology of development that makes a case for, among other things, a pact between the national bourgeoisie and the emerging proletariat," and he does not object. (123) Hence, Freire adopts Lenin's vision of colonial anti-imperialism, that is, he calls for a united front of the comprador bourgeoisie and the proletariat--and he supports this process in Cuba, Grenada, Guinea-Bissau, Brazil, and Nicaragua. So, we have, at once, anti-orthodoxy in calls for permanent (but united) cultural revolution, and orthodoxy in that stage theory of Leninism (first make the anti-colonialist fight, then make the struggle for production to protect gains and gain abundance, all this is motivated by individual incentives, then discuss equality) born of Soviet necessity. (124) This strong belief in Freire that ideas, love, can transcend material differences created systematically, that altruistic unity can supercede material interests and ideology can overcome structurally supported conflicting interests--all contradicted by the orthodox practice of uncritical praise for the most traditional socialist regimes, traces through Freire's theoretical work. The importance of production is again underlined in Education for Critical Consciousness, "it became essential to achieve economic development as a support for democracy, thereby ending the oppressive power of the rich over the poor."(125)
Freire grows sharper still in regard to the link of education and production in Pedagogy in Process:
"..this implies a radical transformation of the educational system inherited from the colonizers. Such transformation can never be done mechanically...and must be based on certain material conditions that also offer incentives for change. It demands increased production. At the same time it requires a reorientation of production through a new concept of distribution." (126)
The potentially radical kernel here, the new concept of distribution, is never fully discussed.
More to the point, "This is a cultural project which, being faithful to its popular roots without idealizing them, is faithful also to the struggle to increase production in the country". (127)
And, "The team...would be attentive to the general political principles of the Party and the government--the social plan that determines what needs to be known, why, and in whose benefit, as well as what needs to be produced, how, for what, and for whom".(128)
Freire begins to problematize the relationship of production for profit and education.
"Production will be oriented in the direction of values of exchange and not in values of use....the stimulus of production will always be of a material nature, contrary to the central thrust of an educational program as we have been discussing here. A program linked to production that seeks to build such incentives as cooperative work and concern for the common good places its faith in human beings. It has a critical, not ingenuous, belief in the ability of people to be remade in the process of reconstructing their society".(129)
In Freire's most recent, Pedagogy of Hope, he argues somewhat more concretely that he opposes the form of post-revolutionary education that is "no longer an education faithfully dedicated to a critical understanding of the world, but an education strictly devoted to the technical training of a labor force". He urges a "critical, vigilant, scrutinizing attitude toward technology, without either demonizing it or 'divinizing' it". (130)
But Freire's sense of the post-revolutionary education system, subordinate to the political process, is always called back by the exigencies of national economic development, "Together with production or productive work...education should in this transition period become a stimulus to the necessary deepening change in society".(131)
The unity and struggle of Freire's assemblage of literacy, consciousness, revolution, and production brings together what I believe are the great strengths and weaknesses in Freire and opens possibilities for further investigation. Within the formula are Freire's concepts of dialectical materialism, the role of ideology and leadership, the importance of dialogue and love, the lighthouse part played by history, the necessity of political parties as agents of change, the nature of social practice as the test of consciousness, and the requirement that liberation be linked to intensified national economic development.
Freire's own notion of struggling with text, and calling practice into question, serves as the standard for this section which initiates an effort to grapple with what Freire recognizes as frequent criticism of his work as idealist.(132)
I sharply disagree with Robert Mackie who claims," Paulo Freire has only one desire: that his thinking:
May coincide historically with all those who, whether they live in those cultures which are wholly silenced or in silent sectors of cultures which prescribe their voice, are struggling to have a voice of their own.(133)
Freire, in his theoretical approach, goes well beyond that. But the fundamentally binary, and ahistorical, view that exploited people are silenced (rather than always resistant and sophisticated) does underlie much of Freire.(134) I note the racist section of Pedagogy of Hope, written by Ana Freire, which indicates black people in Brazil are just overcoming their timidity--this in the face of her own knowledge of repeated forms of rebellion and resistance. That this accusation of timidity is not directed to the Brazilian middle class or the mass of clergy is evidence of the nature of the comment.(135) Nor can I concur with Taylor's proposal that Freire's method simply "works".(136) There is more at issue here, as Taylor knows, and it is the purpose of what the method works for, and the type of problematizing that grows from the purpose, that must be questioned. Freire insists that the process of his plan for education is tactical, propelled by the political position of the teacher and, finally, "As a liberating educator, I am very clear about what I want".(137) Godotti, a key player in the Workers' Party of Brazil and self-identified Freireian, sees Freire's ideas transforming capitalist education in "socialist democratic" ways--through the policies of the Workers Party.(138)
Freire is only infrequently precise in his theoretical writings about just what it is that a liberating educator is--other than one who offers freedom and rigor--toward what end? Indeed, his obscurity is frequently noted. John Elias is generous when he calls Freire "eclectic".(139) While Freire claims a liberating educator must recognize the dialectical relativity of knowledge, he agrees that the educator must be politically grounded--in precisely in what? Uncertainty? The ethics of the moment? Situationist ethics? Actually, Freire is quite directive. He refers to an "inductive moment" when "the liberating educator cannot wait for the students to initiate their own forward progress into an idea or understanding, and the teacher must do it".(140) The best way to unravel what it is he believes constitutes political location and liberation is to carefully undo his theoretical base and observe his practice, with the historical background as a critical contextual preface.
On the one hand, the appearance is that Freire relies on a fundamentally idealist approach, that is, the belief that language or ideas determine reality; on the other hand, he takes a undeveloped interpretation of materialism and applies that to the world of deeds. Sartre, above, noted a similar error in Hegel. And I agree with Sartre that missing a proper interpretation of material reality necessarily makes it impossible to apply a dialectical understanding of that reality. Hence, not being materialist means an analysis cannot be fully dialectical. I believe Freire's philosophical error has nearly equivalent historical roots in Marxist practice and theory and that this error, uncorrected, will cost human lives. A call for revolution is not an abstraction. Despite Freire's insistence on critical reflection, his ironically uncritical support for the Allende's, Cabral's, Bishop's, Mao's, and Gueverra's of the failed socialist past, can become the foundation for recapitulated failure.
Conscientization can be seen as a blend of the dialectical understanding of knowledge as a social construction, or the internal/external idealist dialectic that lies at the heart of missionaryism, that is, the externalized sense of the base of human motivation in a god coupled with the internalized sense of guilt that overrides common interest. Freire has never, in text, fully worked through just how one is to distinguish love for all people, humanitarianism, and class warfare, love for some particular people. Indeed, some of Freire's work is deeply concerned with freeing the oppressors. This demonstrates the reversal of dialectical understanding that occurs when ideas are privileged over materiality. Despite Taylor's insistence that this is a "pedagogy WITH the oppressed", there is a clear tendency within Freire's insistence on direction to indicate that this may be pedagogy FOR them.(141) Even so, the issues are: conscious from what, of what, to what end, and how? What should be the content of understanding the problem of social classes? Freire moves in a sophisticated way here and makes contributions beyond what he thinks is a weak link. To the contrary, rather than a weakness, I believe the role of consciousness, as a material weapon, is one of Freire's great strengths--but also the heart of his turn toward dialectics disconnected from the material world.
I reiterate Freire's concept of critical consciousness, "Never a mere reflection of but a reflection upon material reality. If it is true that consciousness is impossible without the world that constitutes it, it is equally true that this world is impossible if the world itself in constituting consciousness does not become an object of its critical reflection".(my emphasis)(142)
This is a critical point. It combines the Freire who, elsewhere, tilts toward idealism, and the Freire who, sometimes, insists on the dominance of the material world and class struggle, "in a class society all humanization is impossible".(143) I believe the paragraph above best encases his beliefs about the origins of consciousness, that is, the faith that the world does not precede consciousness but is simultaneous with it. Taylor has noticed this position as a form of Manichaenism, an inheritor of the Gnosticism which Freire references repeatedly in Pedagogy for Liberation.(144) Gnosticism, the ideas of an early Christian sect taking its name from the Greek, "to know", is marked by the sense that God and the world rose within humanity, and, more pointedly, claimed " an esoteric wisdom, sharply distinguishing between the initiated and the uninitiated". Gnostics rely on a series of saviors, all of them human, who unite with their god-head to bring knowledge and salvation.(145)
Now Lenin, who Freire uncritically notes is a key base of understanding the link between ideas and materiality, theory and practice, attacks this kind of philosophical gnosticism in his early Materialism and Empiro-Criticism.(146)
In assailing Berkeley and Mach, who made similar claims about the duality of consciousness and the material world, Lenin restates their position as, "the object and the sensation are the same thing and therefore cannot be abstracted from each other".
Lenin then moves to describe the consequences of this position:
"if the 'assumption' of the existence of the material world is 'idle', if the assumption that (a) needle exists independently of me and that an interaction takes place between my body and the point of the needle is really "idle and superfluous", then primarily the 'asumption of the existence of other people is idle and superfluous. Only I exist, and all other people, as well as the external world, come under the category of idle 'nuclei'".(147)
Lenin argues quite sharply that this form of idealism, which pretends to link the material world with consciousness but in actuality disengages one from the other, is contradicted by the fundamental base of dialectical and historical materialism ,that is, that "things exist independently of our consciousness, independently of our perceptions, outside of us..."(148). He then notes that failure to secure knowledge with the material world damages the possibilities for enriched dialectical understanding, since materiality is far more complex than the imagination.
Lenin moved from this position, enriched it, in his later Philosophical Notebooks, going beyond the belief that knowledge is but a reflection or copy of the world, arguing, "Cognition is the eternal, endless approximation of thought to the object. The reflection in man's thought must be understood not lifelessly, not abstractly, not devoid of movement, not without CONTRADICTIONS, but in the eternal PROCESS of movement, the arising of contradictions and their solution".(149) But Lenin reiterates that in the beginning, there was the world.
Freire appears to want idealism both ways. that is, he wants to hold to the idealist belief that consciousness does create being, while, within this framework, apply the sextant of dialectical materialism. God, for Freire, stands above and outside dialectical materialism, a useful tool in God's universe. Beyond Gnosticism, this is more pointedly the kind of agnosticism, the decision not to know--or abandon--the relationship of being determining consciousness, that Lenin censures. It is also this form of consciousness, which surely can be formulated in only the most unique of minds, that can serve as the base for the sense of individualism, uncritical hero-worship (for, say, Allende, Mao, Cabral, Bishop and the other icons of the orthodoxy--post-Stalin--whose good will is so strong that it overcomes the rather obvious collapse of the social systems they each hoped to assemble) that strains through much of Freire's writing.
If critical consciousness can be wrapped up in Freire's comment to Dewitt noted earlier, that it amounts to permanent impenetrability to the inveigling whispers of power, liberation must be a step further still, an affirmation of power itself. Indeed, "education has a lot to do with the reinvention of power", that is, the reinvention of the new, more commonly seen as the negation of the negation.(150) The sense of liberation presented in Freire takes the dichotomous approach that is likely to arise from the agnosticism that sweeps across his sense of education and consciousness, that is, he is unable to link the dialectical relationship of liberation in the mind, revolution in political affairs, and the abstraction of freedom for humanity. He comments, correctly I believe, that liberating education must also "be thought of as something that goes on outside the classroom in social movements which fight against domination".(151) And, inside the classroom, a liberating class is constructed around an exploratory approach, an experimental attitude, self-motivation and collective determination of rigor, and democracy in which we are once again told by Freire, "You learn democracy by making democracy, but with limits".(152) Just how it is that Freire will balance, on the one hand, an endlessly open and critical liberated intellectual approach, with the inegalitarian necessities of a revolutionary political party, even a federation like the Workers Party he helps to lead, is not entirely clear. Except, again, we must recognize that there is a bottom line, limits. And Freire knows this has often not worked too well. In an exchange with the North American educator and organizer, Myles Horton, Horton says, "..a revolution to my knowledge has not changed any schooling system or any that I've known about. School systems stay pretty much like the way they were before."
Freire responds, "Yes".(153)
Both then note modest changes in a few Latin American school systems but agree that, fundamentally, things are much the same.(154)
The turn toward idealism in literacy for Freire is the well-spring of idealism in political analysis, since he directly binds one to another, literacy and the primacy of language, representations before matter. His education project is clearly a partisan one. "The educator must know in favor of whom and in favor of what he or she wants. This means to know against whom and against what we are working. I don't believe in the kind of education that works in favor of humanity"(155) Yet, I argue, it appears because of his over-arching idealism, he is able to shift to the proposition that when he leads a literacy project, when he changes the consciousness of people, he does so from "a human point of view".(156) Now, the problem remains: is the project of social democracy (that is, the Workers' party of Brazil) in the interest of the mass of people, even humanity, or is it a false North Star?
In discussing leadership and the masses, educators and students Freire makes an idealist and directive twist: ideas and talk overcome material differences---the inegalitarian relationship of the student, the teacher and the government--and growing understandings of material conditions are maneuvered to an express political vision of the environment. I propose that all of this likely hinges on the question of whether the material analysis is on point or not, a question I will put to Freire's analysis below. The form of the method is secondary to the content, yet the form is important and influences the content. In any case, I contend this link, the educator to the student and the state, needs to be more thoroughly historicized or practically worked out in Freire's work--a contention that suggests at least that Freire's appearance of openness may be contradicted by clear stratagems designed to urge students to see the world, not simply in their own way, but Freire's--and to use his method of analysis to do that.
However, in addition to the material split of elites and the people, what Freire never fully works through is the fundamental role of technology as a propeller of social change--and the subsequent social underpinnings to post-revolutionary ideological inconsistency. For example, he wants the masses of people to "take control of their history", but he has never suggested that post-revolution elites, those who benefit from inegalitarian decision-making and reward systems, might have a material stake in inequality. At bottom, this seems to be the most orthodox of Marxist theory, the theory of productive forces, applied throughout the socialist world, which sees change as coming first through the creation of abundance via industrialization. Yet, it is Freire's great strength, I believe, that he continues to insist on the importance of ideology--the potential of critical thinking within radical movements. (157) His quandary is how to link the two--ideology and the movement of society via changes in the means of production, and his inability to make this tie is caused by his insistence on ideas as origins. But Freire relies on the faith that national economic development, production enhanced by education, will carry people forward to a better world. He is not able to fully reach into the contradiction here, an elite in control of a socialist society with material privileges that soon develop their own stratified ranks--and ideas about the technological needs of education. This cannot be solved by language and good will--or education. Again, this is, at once, Marxist orthodoxy, the theory of productive forces; and opportunism, the belief that ideas can overcome antagonistic contradictions of material interests. Freire has not found a way to reach beyond what may be a contradiction he recognizes, a tightrope act he is willing to risk in theory, but a risk he does not take in practice. After all, he does worry through the nature of elites within revolutions, and he has struggled with social inequality post-revolution. On the other hand is the paradox: what is the possibility for a truly critical intellectual movement of production in a society still based on inequality, socialism. After all, it appears to me that there has never been a socialist society that was anything but capitalism with a benevolent head.(158)
As I indicated above, I believe there are strengths in Freire's method that might allow students to employ it to their own advantage, even those identifying their interests as different from his. I agree with Freire that is probably too much to believe that students will spontaneously reach that understanding.
But Freire wants to go well beyond the spontaneity implied by reliance on the student's inherent ability to unveil the relationships of power, at least in the student's immediate world.(159)
He is after a revolution, but he recognizes that the process of reaching the revolution can influence its later content.
I want to underline that there is great strength offered here, a rational kernel as it were. Freire submits a process which can press well beyond the idealism which surrounds his view. The problem solving process, if we adopt it as a process and continue to critique Freire's direction, is a useful tool, indeed, it is a nice description of dialectical materialism.
It is within this problem-solving process that there is the recognition of the power of conscious exploration, the ability to self correct, that is sometime dormant within more brittle approaches to dialectical materialism, the orthodoxies which say that things can change only after technology has material conditions of production. I believe this is indeed the language of possibility, the stretch beyond orthodoxy that Freire offers, that is useful to those who want to pick up where Freire ends. However, Freire recognizes it is a radical few who will have the time and ability to make the requisite intellectual leaps.
In any case, I believe these paragraphs illustrate the fact that Freire
ties production into his formula of literacy and consciousness for liberation--and
open the key questions for exploration. Now, in turn, I look to the history
that drives Freire's work, his theory, and his practice.
Paulo Freire, in describing his admiration for Gramsci, says, "for him, the philosophy of practical action was history". (160) He says that to understand something one must "become soaked in the cultural and historical waters of those individuals involved in the experience." (161) Freire goes on to describe how it is that history is the method for analyzing the specificities of an area--and of a man. And Freire, who considered his period in Geneva and at Harvard to be exile, frequently insists he is a man of Northeastern Brazil.(162) Indeed, at the earliest possible moment, he returned to Brazil, though to the prosperous Southeast. Moreover, Freire is a radical, a founding member of the Workers Party of Brazil--and supporter of other Marxist options, who chooses education and literacy as the nucleus of his decidedly political work on the side of the oppressed. (163) On his own terms, he is a fair subject for a historical and political examination. Hence, this section gives a historical overview of Brazil, its Northeast, slavery in Brazil as an entre to understand the importance of the master-slave discourse, the Brazilian left--Christian and Marxist. Throughout, I demonstrate the relationship of literacy to struggles for social change. This exploration will be carried out in some detail. I believe it is critical to my thesis to demonstrate that Brazil is an advanced capitalist nation, long out of feudal or even crude colonial relationships. In reviewing Brazilian history, and focusing on the Northeast, I identify several themes that underlie Freire's work: especially the dramatic social inequalities in the region--and their sources. In taking up slavery in Brazil, I provide some of the underpinnings for what becomes Freire's continuing references to masters and slaves--and I question why it is he has not come forward with a more cogent analysis of Brazilian racism. It is equally important to grasp the background of the left, and the Christian liberation theologists in Brazil for that blend goes to the heart of the solutions Freire invites. I question whether what appears to be a unity born in struggle, may in essence be pluralism likely to disperse, at considerable cost. I then review Freire's chronology within this framework in an attempt to lay the groundwork for the formation of his ideas.
Brazil is third only in land mass to the United States and Canada in the Western Hemisphere. With more than 150 million people, it is one of the few countries in the world to show steadily increasing rates of population growth for the last century--a factor encouraged by government policies. Brazil in the seventies determined to press forward in both economic and population growth, bucking pressure from the U.S. to limit its 3% per year growth rate, one of the highest in the world. It is geographically the largest country in Latin America and has historically had the largest gross national product. In the midst of the economic boom of the early seventies, Brazil pushed its way "from twenty-first to fourteenth in rank among developing countries, based on per capita Gross National Product" (GNP).(165) By 1991 Brazil was tenth among the world industrial powers with a $375 billion GNP.(166) Brazilian citizens share an imperial but pervasive language, Portuguese, as well as the choice of dual Portuguese citizenship. Even so, Portuguese itself is coded with the inflections and grammar of class distinctions.(167) The overwhelming majority, at least 90%, of Brazilians are Catholic, though Catholicism is regularly challenged by political movements attacking the church's relevancy, and by Protestant Evangelists whose crusades are presently sweeping across all of Latin America.(168) About three-quarters of the population now lives in cities, an increase of about 30% in the last 30 years.(169) The industrial work force increased remarkably since 1960 to more than 20 percent.(170) Labor unions have a long and active history in Brazil, as does the U.S. labor movement. The U.S. based American Institute for Free Labor Development trained "over 50,000 Brazilian trade unionists in their in-country programs" and sent another group of 400 to the U.S. for advanced work. (171)
The Brazilian auto industry quadrupled production from 1968 and 1974. By 1975 the country led all of Latin America in auto production, by far, with more than 1.5 million vehicles. VW, General Motors, Mercedes Benz and Ford are all heavily invested in Brazil, relying on a historically friendly state to boost profits.(172)
The country is divided into five distinct regions: the North and the Amazon basin, the Northeast, the East, the South and the Center-West. The economy in North is built around rubber, fishing and some cattle breeding, in the Northeast around sugar, cattle breeding and cotton, in the East around coffee, cocoa and industry, the south around industry and the Center-west around cattle. About 45% of the population lives in the Southeast, 14% in the South, and 35 % in the Northeast. But, as of 1970, the period for which the most reliable figures exist, the Southeast earned 66.5% of the nation's income, the Northeast but 12%. As a whole, the top 20% of the country's earners control 63.3% of the total national income, the lowest 40% control just 9.8%. These figures represent a shift toward greater, not less, inequality over the last twenty years.(173) Indeed, today the World Bank, an institution with an interest in not noticing inequality, calls Brazil the "most unequal country in the world".(174) The education system itself is recognized in the literature as being segregated, primarily by class. For example, the "concentration of income in the hands of the already affluent has led" to a dual economy in education for adults and children in Brazil. (175)
People in the Northeast die early. They live an average of four fewer years than a Sao Paulo resident, ten years less when they live in the Central Northeast--the backlands. The Northeast is Brazil's poorest region. There is no indication this is changing.(176)
The nation is also divided by race, in striking material ways. Brazil suffers from a rather elaborate code of racism, ranging along a scale of power from European Caucasian to African to Mestizo to Indian. People self-identify themselves in surveys, probably skewing the results somewhat. Even so, self-identified white people live longer, by about seven years, than non-whites. In 1980, 54.2 % of the population designated themselves as white, 38.8 % as brown, 5.9 % as black, and 0.7% as yellow. This is a considerable shift from a 1872 census, suspect for the same reasons, which identified 38.1% of the population as white, 19.7% as black, and 42.2% of "mixed blood".(177) Reasons for this change will be discussed in the context of Brazilian slavery. Even during the boom years of industrial growth, the disparity in regional incomes remained the same or grew worse--as did the inequity in income between the rich and the poor, whites and people of color. The country remains not merely economically and regionally stratified, but racially split as well. (178)
A slow economic recovery in the early 1980's based on industrial development mostly located Latin America's largest industrial city, Sao Paulo in the Southeast, led to a boom in the late 1980's and a trade surplus of $12 billion. Yet a massive trade deficit remained. Many Brazilians began to find surcease in the old folk saying, "Owe someone fifty thousand dollars and they control you; owe them $100 million and you control them." If Brazil defaulted on it's debts, huge U.S. banks like Citi-Bank would likely be in crisis. Still, on the heels of the industrial surge, the country is now self-sufficient in steel, aluminum, rubber, and plastic.(179)
Ten million people live in urbane Sao Paulo. The Government claims a 10% unemployment rate but "seven million live in shacks, shanty towns and deteriorating conditions...and (about) 14% are illiterate".(180) Like most of Latin America, Brazilian infant mortality rates are high, about 65 per thousand, and related to fluctuations in the minimum wage.(181) The North American Committee on Latin America, investigating countless thousands of street children in Brazil, alleges that young girls are routinely sold into slavery/prostitution, especially "up the river" to the mining regions and the remote areas of the Northeast, that one thousand of these "marginals" are murdered by death squads each year, and that the government winks at their deaths.(182) While popular mythology has long had it that Brazil is a racial democracy, a country where class counts so much more than race that it is only economic barriers that need to be overcome, a myth for which Brazilian philosopher (and a favorite of Paulo Freire) Gilberto Freyre is largely responsible, it remains that racial color coding is one of the lynch-pins of Brazilian inequality.(183) Wood points out that Brazil, "was justifiably famous for its "...intermarriage, and the rarity of outright legal segregation. Yet, black people, color-coded as always, were "bypassed by the development process." But prejudice is a state of mind. Discrimination relates to practice. In 1976 the average wage for whites was "twice that of non-whites". (184) Remarkably, in 1979, Brazil was "the world's second largest exporter of food, while 40% of its population still suffer(ed) from malnutrition".(185) Depending on the source, illiteracy in all of Brazil ranges from 33 % to 50 %.(186)
Just how things got to this juncture, specifically how it is that a tiny percentage of the population came to control the wealth and the quality of life while the vast majority is left in apparent poverty and ignorance, is a key issue here.
Of the past 150 years, Brazil has lived under fascist or feudal governments for about 120. Moments of bourgeoisie democracy are interspersed in this record, but those years are not sequential. Invaded by the Portuguese explorer Alvares Cabral in 1500, the one and one-half million indigenous people resisted, died, and retreated to the interior, pursued to some effect by the Jesuits who built a lasting base for Rome in Latin America. Interestingly, the Jesuits used organizing tactics similar to those later adopted by Saul Alinsky and Freire, a pair whose commonality is recognized by Paul Taylor.(187) The Jesuit invaders needed to learn the language and adapt to some of the customs of the indigenous people, to come to understand their issues, to find answers to those issues in the teachings of the Catholic church, to convince people to act according to the teachings in order to addresses their problems, and finally to institutionalize the teachings in the language of the church.(188) Their considerable success is surely in part to their sophisticated technique.
The Brazilian territory was, within the justice framework of European law, legally taken by Portugal because the land was on the eastern side of a line dividing Portuguese and Spanish colonies in the western hemisphere. Brazil remained Portugal's for two hundred years until, in the early 1800's, the royal court of Portugal fled to Brazil to outrun Napoleon. The presence of the royal family retarded independence revolts like those occurring in the Spanish colonies. With the collapse of Napoleon, the royal family returned to Portugal in 1820, leaving a scion, Dom Pedro, in charge. In 1822, Dom Pedro severed ties with his family, declared Portuguese independence, and the country became and independent monarchy. Dom Pedro's son, Dom Pedro II, ruled the country until 1889 when he abdicated under pressure from the merchant classes who were annoyed with a proclamation--with the effect of law--issued by his daughter Isabel, freeing Brazil's slaves. Hence Brazil gained emancipation without the bitterness, and richness, obtained in a vast national struggle. Brazil, theoretically, became a republic in 1891. (189)
The Portuguese, the first colonists of Latin America to do so, initiated agricultural and manufacturing industries rather than turning solely to the exploitation of gold resources.
Sugar, based in the Northeast, became the main export and from that dietary decadence rises much of Brazil's current reality. The sugar economy required huge tracts of land and cheap labor. Hence came land ownership concentrations in the hands of a few--and slavery. Land concentration in today's Brazil can be traced back to the time of the Portuguese crown, racial stratification back to slavery, regional divisiveness back to the tailing of marketable resources in the colonial world. Sugar production on concentrated lands created a semi-feudal class of owners who did as they pleased, beyond the reach of any state on their huge tracts. A dip in the world price of sugar after 1750 through the Northeast into a depression from which it has never recovered and caused a shift to cattle production in the interior. The Northeast lost its key economic role in Brazil. Gold discoveries and the intense international demand for rubber, coffee, and cotton during World War I caused population shifts toward the south, especially the southeast and to the Amazon basin. The industrial expansion of the latter half of the twentieth century continued the population and economic shift to the Southeast, especially Sao Paulo, but it must be noted again that the enhanced economic base never meant an improved life in the Northeast, nor did it mean that poor and working class people could cultivate their lives or land. It simply meant, for the most part, that those who had--mostly white people, a group extending into the upper middle classes--got more (190)
From 1891 to 1930, Brazil lived as a republic for those in the middle and upper classes. Voting was prohibited for women and illiterates. A unity of the military, the intelligentsia, and the landowners began to grow which was crystallized in a populist-fascist revolution led by Getulio Vargas in 1930. Vargas ruled in a corporatist fashion, patterning himself after Mussolini and Franco, for 15 years. Vargas offered a velvet glove of company unionism based on a state-sponsored form of paternalism surrounding an iron fist of anti-communist, anti-socialist laws nd practices. Vargas "also offered the benefit of favoring the expansion of the internal market and protecting it with its right wing nationalism from foreign competition that could easily strangle the developing national industry".(191)
The industrialization which surged with the Second World War caused a corresponding increase in the size of the industrial working class and the merchants. This merchant/capitalist class had interests in competition with the old bourgeoisie made up of landowners and traders. They had a need for a technological intelligentsia, people involved in and capable of expanding productive forces beyond those at hand, and this group, as it grew, frequently identified their interests with that of the rising sector of the bourgeoisie. Vargas took the road of most politicians--he did what was necessary to stay in power (indeed, as the industrial base developed he began to loosen his grip on the unions--and to use corporate style unionism as a populist base) but kept a keen eye on the needs of the most powerful. But his drift to the left sufficiently worried the military that they staged a coup, seizing power and implementing a direct form of militaristic fascism, in 1945. Important under Vargas was a system of state-labor relations which subsumed labor unions in a government-directed network of councils which reduced the political participation and weakened the bargaining power of the unions, and, in addition, determined their organizing base frequently along lines of their position in the economy, one union for each occupational category--rather like the AFL's origins in the U.S. Wages were fixed by law. Strikes were largely illegal, theoretically a violation of the populist state, and labor disputes were encapsulated by a system of courts, including labor elites and corporation heads, which shifted struggle from the job to the bureaucracy. Labor leaders were often trained by the U.S. AFL-CIO sponsored American Institute for Free labor Development, long known as a front for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.(192) The military-corporatist rule worked, at least for national economic development. "The period from 1945 to 1960, Brazil's fastest phase of development, was ruled by the National Front".(193)
In 1950, Vargas came back to power through an election and remained in office only until 1954, when he committed suicide. He was succeeded by Juscelino Kubitschek, a centrist who drew support from liberals, the Soviet-backed Brazilian Communist Party, and fascists, simultaneously. He proposed to bring "fifty years of development in five" and to build a new capital in the central region, Brasilia.(194) Kubitschek's ambition, necessarily requiring huge expenditures to develop transportation and energy was, coupled with massive inflation. This, linked to the restiveness of Brazilian labor which gained strength as it was organized by the expansion of industry, resulted in Kubitscek's electoral loss to Janio Quadros. Quadros, elected on promises of jobs, industrialization, and the end of inflation, probably an impossible task, committed suicide after only days in office and was replaced by Joao Goulart. Goulart quickly moved toward Vargas' populist/fascist tactics but could do nothing about a 100% inflation rate, labor unrest, and hints of a growing leftist movement coalescing beyond the reach of the usual liberal/leftist/Christian coalitions. He was driven from office by a lightening strike of the military on 1 April 1964. The left, which had openly followed Goulart, was quickly smashed. The military coup, which took a wide view of defining enemies, arrested hundreds of priests and lay workers. Yet the military takeover was enthusiastically supported by the Vatican.(195) Freire was jailed and exiled. Six successive generals then held office under similar Vargas-style populist/fascist programs until 1984 when open elections were held. This opened the possibilities for legal liberal-leftist-Christian activity and many opposition groups resurfaced. Paulo Freire returned to the country in the midst of a general amnesty.
Several currents are important to note here. First, the industrialization of Brazil coupled to its deep ties to world imperialism make it clear that this is not, as some would have it, a semi-feudal country.(196) Even though traces of feudalism remain, like remnants of property relations on plantations or mystical beliefs as organized into movements by churches, Brazil is an advanced capitalist nation and it is capitalist production, capitalist markets, the development of raw materials and the concentration of labor, the rising inequalities rooted in class and race and sex described above, that penetrates every aspect of Brazilian life.(197) Even though this process is fraught with its own internal contradictions, between the rising merchant/industrialists, the military and the old landowner class for example, as well as deep splits within and between poor and working people, and its own cultural expressions, as seen in the memories of the patron and the feudal agricultural relationships that revolve out of agricultural production, it remains that the dominant trend is social inequality based within the results of imperialism and industrial capitalism, material dominance of the an ever-increasing and marginally organized many by a narrowing few who hold state power.
Secondly, Brazil has a long history of corporatist (fascist) schemes which propose to unite all social classes for the purpose of national economic development. The military, and the U.S. have long dominated Brazilian history which is rife with conflict and inequality. Racism in Brazil has its roots in the particular history of Brazilian slavery. Finally, in every instance where there was domination, there was also resistance. People did fight back, though they were unsuccessful in gaining state power or even most of their modest reform goals. The left did maintain a presence in Brazil, proved if in no other fashion than through the government's designs to crush them. I now turn to an examination of the Freire's birthplace, Brazil's Northeast, cite of key parts of the resistance, then to the background of slavery in Brazil, and to the organized resistance itself, the Brazilian left.
The history of the Northeast is brilliantly portrayed by Euclides da Cunha's epic, Rebellion in the Backlands, which, despite a flawed sense of social Darwinism, brilliantly illustrates the brutality of life on the northeastern plains, an area infamous for its droughts, the passionate ties of its people to the land, and its sharp contradictions as in the harsh rub of the desert on skin and rock. Interestingly, Da Cunha's book, known as the bible of Brazil, get's little attention in the discourse around Freire, even though it traces, and predates by about 3/4 of a century, Freire's conceptual investigatory framework of nature, man, history and culture in its chapter headings.(198)
Da Cunha, who was followed by a number of novelists and writer from the Northeast like Jorge Amado, follows his own beautifully put advice. "Just as the geologist by estimating the inclination and orientation of the truncated strata of very old formations, is enabled to reconstruct the outlines of a vanished mountain, so the historian, in taking the stature of...man,... will find it of value solely in considering the psychology of the society which produced him".(199)
It is Da Cunha's project to demonstrate the historical and political roots of a rebellion in the Northeast, to create an epic of rebellion and its material causes--and its people and their ideas. His masterful stroke can be perhaps appropriated in this exchange.
On 1 May 1895, A Capuchin missionary entered a square of a village in the Northeast where the people had begun a rebellion, resistance against their misery and the seizure of their land. Joined by two other missionaries, he met Antonio Counselheiro, an illiterate and leader of the rebellion, in a temple, full of the rebels armed followers. "I proposed to give a Holy mission and advise the people to disperse and return to their homes."
"We want to go with our counselor."
"It is to protect myself that I keep these armed men with me for your eminence must know that the police attacked me and tried to kill me..at the place where the dead were piled up on one side and another. In the days of the monarchy, I let myself be taken, for I recognized the government; but today I will not, because I do not recognize the republic".
The friar replied, "Sir, if you are a Catholic, you must remember that the Church condemns revolts and, accepting all forms of government, teaches that the constituted authorities rule the people in the name of God."
"It is that way everywhere", the Friar went on, "In France, which is one of the principal nations of Europe, there was a monarchy for many centuries, but for more than twenty years now there has been a republic; and all the people there, with the exception of the monarchists, obey the authorities and laws of government."
'In thus rehashing these meaningless political considerations, himself ignorant of the backland disorders, the Friar shows us why he failed. The anomalous figure of the propagandist now becomes apparent, lacking only the rifle of the curate of Santa Cruz beneath the folds of his vestments.'
'And from the multitude came the prompt and arrogant response: "It is Your Reverence who holds a false doctrine, not our Counselor."(200)
In describing the Rebellion in the Backlands, Da Cunha predates Freire's multiple themes of struggle, oppression, literacy, consciousness, and resistance in culture and war. The people drew their inspiration, at least initially, from an examination of the same landscape.
The Northeast has always been harsh and, as noted above, it never recovered from the drop in Sugar prices more than a century ago. The area is "larger than Spain, Portugal, and Italy combined...it has been called Brazil's nation within a nation".(201) The breaks from drought to floods underlie the area's population movement, from the interior working the cattle ranches to the south and toward the sea and, until recently, back to the home area when the weather crisis abated. Now, once moved, it appears people remain in the cities. Still, the patriarchal family, the heart of the agricultural interiors social complex, extends into all human relationships in the Northeast and there, especially, a tiny upper class of landowners remains in place as a political and cultural force.(202) Here, on the sugar plantations, came the early practice of "winking", priests producing children from the rape of slaves they owned, a practice which created, paradoxically, an atmosphere of tolerance for the offspring, and which forms an important part of the history of the Brazilian mestizo population.(203)
North Americans came to know the Northeast in two ways, one more superficial than the other: first, it was a key air stopover during World War II for the flight to Europe and North Africa. Once again its geography stood above its people and problems. The flight crews had no time to notice the war beginning to boil up beneath them. Fifteen years later, a young reporter, Ted Szulc, visited the region and on October 31, 1960, made the front page of the New York Times with an article claiming that "the makings of a revolutionary situation are increasingly apparent across the vastness of the poverty-stricken and drought-plagued Brazilian Northeast". Szulc was referring to a situation made possible, in part, by the introduction of reforms to the Northeast through an organization know as SUDENE (the Superintendency for the Development of the Northeast) implemented by the Brazilian congress in 1958. (204)
Celso Furtado, scholarly author of a report which gave SUDENE its impetus, was named director of SUDENE, responsible immediately to the President of Brazil, Kubitschek. The report had described the sever inequities of life in the Northeast, pointed out that much of Brazil had been established on a base of Northeastern labor and agriculture, and suggested that a national effort, headquartered in the key northeastern city of Recife, be enacted to stimulate regional economic growth by striking at the base of the problems which held it back: education and industrialization. The SUDENE report was supported by industrialists eager to minimize the growing rebellions in the Northeast and by the powerful Catholic Church whose Rio Archbishop, Dom Halder Camara, strongly supported the struggle against underdevelopment in the Northeast. In addition, the U.S. Alliance for Progress, under President Kennedy, "committed $131 million to be used by SUDENE over a two year period for beginning solutions to the critical economic problems of the Northeast."(205) The Kennedy administration can be either seen as altruistic, Catholic, or fearful of the Peasant Leagues and guerilla movements which had grown under the leadership of communists and activists in the Northeast. The area demonstrated its tough nature when, in 1967, a guerilla foco designed under the auspices of the renowned Che Guevera, "...had to give up. After a week the Brazilian guerrillas had contracted the bubonic plague and were forced to surrender--a horrifying picture of the natural hazards that can be encountered in South American jungles". (206) To demonstrate the limits of U.S. altruism, Dewitt quotes an unnamed U.S. senator with the singular interest, "You mean that aid to the Northeast will stop communism?"(207) Still, conditions in Brazil today indicate that the Alliance for Progress largely failed, even in its modest educational efforts. The AP admits this setback in its own documents.(208) Social inequality, built on the most harsh of geographies, grew worse.
Again, the purpose of SUDENE was economic development, to integrate the Northeast with the rest of Brazil. "Within that framework, humanization or the maximization of human resources was subordinated to modernization, or the maximization of physical and natural resources of the region".(209) A division of education was established under Furtado, and it was here that Paulo Freire initiated his work as an education activist. Freire who had served as the head of the Cultural Extension Service, an educational program funded by the United States Agency for International Development, was "invited, in 1963, to become the Director of the National Literacy Program" (210) To understand where Freire fits in this situation, between the bureaucracy, the Church, and literacy-liberation, it is critical to see how the fissures developed in Brazilian society, rising from its roots as a slave society. Then we shall look at how the left developed in Brazil, where it is the Peasant Leagues came from, and what Freire may have gleaned from his experiences in these groups.
Slavery is treated separately here because of its bearing on Freire's views on oppression (master-slave relationships), literacy, consciousness, production, and resistance.(211) It must be noted however that slavery was an integral part of the world imperialist system, that while it was unique in some ways in Brazil, slavery never-the-less was the prop on which both that nation and the world capitalist system was built. Brazilian sugar and slavery which made capital available. For example, "Seven-tenths of the goods used by Brazil for slave purchases were British manufactured...was Brazilian sugar necessary. The capitalists said yes, it was necessary to keep British capitalism going".(212)
Slavery was a mass institution in Brazil. Many, many people owned slaves, including priests. "about 70% of the slaves were owned by small proprietors".(213) Only the "poorest people had no slave".(214) And there were many, many slaves and freed people of color. They comprised "about two-thirds of the population in 1808".(215) There is reason to believe Brazilian slavery was extraordinarily harsh, if one can cast a measure of degree in such matters. Because of the high death rate of slaves, and the absence of any corollary law prior to the end of the institution that would have banned importation, relied heavily on the importation of slaves from Africa rather than from indigenous births. In addition, "there were always three times as many males as females among the slave population" which caused special crimes against the female slaves, routinely committed.(216)
Because of the rape of female slaves by most at hand, including, over time, by those who "were themselves of partly colored extraction (there was created) a hierarchical racial spectrum in which dress, manners and money lightened the skin".(217) This ability to purchase whiteness remains in Brazil today, in a limited fashion, as it does in the U.S. For example, one can purchase and exit from the ghetto, and entre to new friendships, but one cannot purchase the dangerous immediate first impression of a state trooper--in the U.S. and Brazil.
Several factors mitigated against slave resistance. The slaves were hard to unite. Separated geographically over vast plains, held under the tight watch of overseer, slaves were also divided by their multiple African backgrounds, cultures and languages--as well as by task and skill factors in Brazil. While it was often the skilled slaves who took leadership in resistance, obtaining a better job was also a factor in compromising slaves. Moreover, the transition away from the Portuguese crown in Brazil required no republican revolt on which the slaves could tie their own fortunes. Slaves found it difficult to play on divisions between elites. One modest republican insurrection, led in part by seminarians, challenged feudal rule but made it clear it sought no alliance with slaves and assured all and sundry that property of all kinds was under no threat. The revolt, with little popular support, was crushed in two months.(218) In addition, it appears to Robin Blackburn that the continuity of a state religion impaired the struggle for freedom. Slavery, in Blackburn's history, is buttressed by religion.(219) The church believed, in theory, that all who were baptized were Catholics.(220) Lay Catholics and their "brotherhoods", associations, struggled hard to recruit slaves and freed people of color. The brotherhoods afforded status and possible job entre but were themselves often sharply split along race and class lines. Eventually, black associations built their own Catholic chapels.(221) Finally, the growth of coffee as a cash crop expanded to the point in the 1850's that Brazil became the world's largest producer. This augmented the need for slaves in a period when many other countries were industrializing, a process mitigating toward paid labor.
Even so, slaves organized and fought back in ways well beyond the predictable daily sabotage. Slave rebellions calling for liberty, equality and fraternity, obviously inspired by the French revolution, rose up as early as 1798.(222) This revolt, like many others, was met by black and mulatto national troops. But resistance continued. Rebellion was constant, often violent, and eventually involved slaves from every ethnic group.(223)
There were white-led anti-slavery movements, often led by women, who took the lessons learned in the struggle against one kind of oppression and began to apply these ideas to the macha of Brazilian culture.(224) These abolition efforts, men and women, slaves and whites, form the roots of the history of Brazilian resistance to domination.
Slaves themselves routinely organized into associations, some open, others clandestine. They joined together for mutual economic benefit, for social reasons, for mutual self-defense--and sometimes to raise money to gain manumission.(225) Organized communities of runaways, "quilombos", which led armed raids to acquire goods needed to operate their camps and terrorized their former owners who lived in desperate fear of the memory of slave rebellions in Haiti.(226)
The common belief that all, or even most, slaves were illiterate is simply untrue. Many could read, though no one knows how many. Entire African national ethnic groups were literate in Portuguese when they were in Africa in the early 1800's and may well have used these skills to either become more socially mobile--or to resist.(227) These workers in turn taught others to read and write. But schools were closed to slaves and to most people of color. For those who could gain entrance, schools were stratified as to quality by class.(228) For the most part, slaves learned to read on their own, by watching others. Slave owners who needed slaves capable of performing complex tasks taught their own slaves to read.
The record is clear that slave literacy and slave rebellion had nothing necessarily in common. For example, a rebellion of slaves in the Bahai region was organized purely by word of mouth. Yet it is equally clear that literacy was a goal of the rebellion.(229) The account is notably similar in the history of slavery in the United States and in the West Indies. Slave owners feared the content of print; not the print itself or the ability to read it. In the U.S., they made modest efforts to retard literacy among slaves but fought in Congress to silence specific publications.(230) Franklin makes the case quite clearly: "Planters became excited over the distribution of abolition literature in the South but gave little attention to preventing slaves to read...Indeed, some masters taught their own slaves..."(231) While Haiti's Touissaint L'Ouverture was quite literate and conversant with European classics, there is nothing in C.L.R. James' classic, "The Black Jacobins" to indicate that literacy led L'Ouverture to rebel.(232) To the contrary, Hilary Beckles argues that literacy enhanced slaves "socials status and allowed them to move into occupations such as artisan or overseer".(233)
Blackburn offers an interesting theoretical and historical turn on the conquest of Latin American slavery. He refers to the failure of "Hegel's well-known thesis on the master-slave, as Sartre pointed out in "Critique of Dialectical Reason", to take into account the dialectic between one master and another. The dialectic of the subject also fails to address the problem of how inter-subjectivity could develop between slaves in differing situations and of different extraction; and likewise it fails to consider the role played by such 'third' groups as free people of color or non-slaveholding whites. The political crisis of the slaveholding order was always aggravated when slaveholders lost their ability to hegemonize the non-slaveholding population of the slave zone..." (234) In sum, Hegel was unable to be sufficiently dialectical, he could not work through the complexities of the contradictions at hand, could not grasp the key contradiction, and could not delineate what side of that contradiction was dominant, because he did not grasp the material base of the question; a logical and necessary flaw of seeing the realm of ideas dominating the realm of the world. I explore this flaw in Freire as we progress.
Blackburn illuminates the pattern of the struggle for freedom by identifying "three factors favourable to such an outcome...(1) a political crisis marginalising slaveholders and giving birth to a new type of state, (2) the actuality or possibility of slave resistance or rebellion, and (3) social mobilisations encouraging the partisans of reform or revolution to rally popular sentiment with anti-slavery acts." (235)
Blackburn then draws his "main conclusion...that slavery was not overthrown for economic reason but where it became politically untenable."(236) He insists that emancipation came not because slavery became unprofitable, but because it came under political attack, attacks related to the dialectic of resistance described in the two paragraph above--but notably the resistance came through an intertwining of material reality and ideology, the latter being the decisive issue for the end of slavery.
The end of formal slavery came to Brazil by decree, as noted earlier, in 1888, twenty three years after the bitter end to slavery through Civil War in the United States. Perhaps because of this absence of a sharp break, the patriarchal, patron, feudal relationships of slavery persisted into the twentieth century, just as they did in the U.S., but even more cruelly. Still, the resistance of the slaves, people in the worst situations imaginable maintaining their dignity and forging their own freedom in high-risk practice, inspired the Brazilian left which came into organizational focus just twenty years after the emancipation decree. It is to the left that we now turn.
Reporter Ted Szulc visited Brazil in the early 1960's and sounded the communist alarm. He saw them nearly everywhere. Despite a tendency toward an interesting form of mystical essentialism ( "One of the first rules a reporter needs to learn in Latin America is that he must never be swayed by reason or logic in trying to gauge future events."(237)), he was, in his limited way, correct. Szulc knew that Brazil had a long history of radicalism. It's history was imbedded with communist representations. The Nobel poet, Pablo Neruda, was a communist. It's leading architect, Niemeyer, was a communist. Novelist Jorge Amado was a communist.(238) And Szulc saw the conditions that gave communists, even the most bumbling among them, an open base from which to work. For example, he visited Recife (Freire's home town) in the Northeast, then a center of migration from the drought-ridden backlands, and saw people living in shacks on stilts above open swamps which were also used both as sewers and the local water supply. When the tide receded, the people hurried into the muck to collect the river crabs scrambling for life under their homes. Szulc called the city a communist stronghold and identified the mayor as a communist sympathizer. He noted that the leader of the Peasant Leagues, Francisco Juliao, described himself as a Marxist, "In the way of Fidel and Mao."(239) Szulc, in his interviews with the locals, saw the increasing activity of the technically illegal but openly in motion Communist Party and concluded that the only thing that kept Juliao from being elected to high office was a law preventing illiterates from voting. This, not surprisingly, was one of the reasons the Peasant League's earliest work was centered around literacy campaigns--as were the efforts of the Catholic base communities.(240) How it is that communists became so popular in the midst of neo-fascist conditions is the topic now at hand.
The communist movement orbits from the ideas of Karl Marx demonstrated most succinctly in the Communist Manifesto first published in 1848 and, until recently, from the centers of power where socialists seized the state, especially China and the Soviet Union. Because, on the one hand, Marx's theoretical contributions fit the movement of historical change, and, on the other hand, the Bolsheviks and the Chinese held state power; the history of world radicalism either emanates from or in opposition to this ideological and material base of conceptual and substantive might.(241)
To understand the communist movement in Brazil, it is thus necessary to briefly locate it in relation to its centrifugal center, the Communist International (Comintern).
Neither Marx nor Engels paid much attention to Latin America. Even so, radicalism in the southwestern hemisphere reflected the debates that occurred between Marx and the anarchists, as represented by Michael Bakunin, as well as those between Marx and the social-democrats as represented by Bernstein. The crux of the debate centered on organization, the state, and the goals of social change, the anarchists presenting the case for individualism, the Marxists on the side of collectivity. In Brazil, like the U.S., the anarchists quickly held influence within large sectors of the trade union, intellectual and peasant movements but almost as quickly moved to secondary status. Another debate within radicalism, that with the social democrats, will be traced below.
The Brazilian Communist movement "is a peculiar one"(242). Unlike most of the rest of the Latin American adherents of the Comintern, the Brazilians maintained their own indigenous leadership, rarely relying on direction from the outside. But, in actuality, that is the limit of its peculiarity. The Brazilian Communist Party (CP), from its inception, was so imbued respect for the Comintern, it didn't need much direction. The Brazilians were simply in agreement. The mutual positions of the Comintern and the Brazilian CP were rooted first in the need to preserve the Soviet Union, next in struggle around local or international conditions. This contradiction, Soviet interests versus the revolutionary impulse of the poor and working people of the world, is widely recognized as the achilles heel of communist revolutions in the twentieth century--though it is but one of many.(243) Initially organized on the heels of the Russian Revolution in 1921, the Brazilian CP made the appropriate turns at the right times, moving from the "Third Period" line of the late twenties and early thirties which denounced social democrats as social-fascists, to the "Popular Front" era following the Seventh Congress of the Comintern which identified the source of fascism as evil forces within the world's ruling classes and urged alliances with the progressive bourgeoisie, through the Hitler-Stalin pact, into WWII and a period of support for the neo-fascist Vargas regime. Like other communist parties throughout the world, the Brazilian CP did take leadership in the fight against racism, in the development and activation of trade unions (Vargas' populist-fascism tolerated labor unions within narrowly drawn labor codes--and the CP often fell in line(244)), and the organizing of peasants. In given periods, it had a huge popular base. Indeed, the CP's Francisco Juliao is identified as having taken the initiative in organizing Peasant Leagues in the early 1960's which the Catholic Church later duplicated in its peasant circles.(245) Yet, the identifying mark of the CP in Brazil was, for more than fifty years, Luis Carlos Prestes, so much so that the party became know as the "Prestesatas" and its ideology "Prestesimo". (246)
Prestes had been a rebellious military officer. He gained fame through two dramatic, if unsuccessful rebellions. From 1925 to 1927, he led a rebel column in "Brazil's Long March. The Prestes column marched 25,000 kilometers through Brazil's rugged and primitive interior fighting landlord private armies and bandit gangs..."(247) He joined the Communist Party in 1931 and in 1935 Prestas led another massive rebellion, undermined by agents provocateurs who set off the revolt precipitously. "The movement was cruelly crushed and thousands lost their lives....Prestes endured nine years of solitary confinement and President Vargas sent Olga Benario, his (Prestes') wife. to Hitler's gas ovens. The party was crushed".(248) Remarkably well disciplined, under direction from the Comintern Prestes built support for Vargas after he left prison and the party again became a mass organ.
Prestes directed the CP through all of the twists of modern socialism. He was still alive in late 1993, but no longer in power. His imprint, a maturity in understanding the bitterly obvious need for clandestine work oddly engraved with a sense of militarism, remains on the party which, during his long tenure, endured all of the splits that make communist genealogy so complex: Trotskyist splits, Maoist splits, splits over democratic centralism weighted too hard one way or another, splits over the nature of the state and the revolutionary potential of elections.(249)
From these splits, from history, come what endures of the left in Brazil today. Peritore and others describe a melange of widely differing political parties and tendencies within parties (Peritore outlines six key factions, ranging from pro-Albania to Gramscian professors, on the communist left--and the social- democratic Workers Party described below). But the reality is that the groupings have quite a bit in common--more than less. All have virtually abandoned revolution, at least temporarily, in favor of electoral work. All are led by intellectuals. All are nationalist. All believe in the notion that production and national economic development are key to future equality: socialism is capitalism with a socialist head.(250)
What is important here is the central role of the Communist Party in the development of the Brazilian left and the mobilization of masses of people in struggles for liberation--they fought back and gave the people a sense of hope that they could win. The lessons learned, or misinterpreted, come largely from the experience of the CP. For example, in the late seventies, a new strike wave swept Brazil, organized by workers and radicals decidedly "NOT led by Brazilian Communists but marked by a radical repudiation of the parties that had traditionally exercised influence on the Brazilian working class..."(251) It was the experience of the CP that gave these radicals the base on which to build a new form of resistance. Or, again, Freire's beliefs about the unity of leadership and the masses, an important contribution to radical theory which I shall review in detail, comes in part from his analysis of the historical ability of elites to split the masses from their leaders--a vision which his own practice questions--and sometimes contradicts. While Prestes was indeed a mass leader deeply respected for his courage, discipline and daring; he was also the party boss to be obeyed--like many other bosses, as Freire notes(252)
Each twist of line in "the harsh political game where losing bears the ultimate price" moved Brazilian radicals into particular activities, ideology entwined with practice, which became a matter of life and death.(253) In brief, in this Brazilian atmosphere particularly, ideas have consequences.
Peritore, Carr, Welder, Maria Helena Moreira Alves, and Freire point to a party which they believe is different, a party beyond the errors of the past in which the masses of people can stake their hopes for the future: the Partido dos Trabalhadores (Workers Party) which was active in the seventies strike wave.(254) This claim is worth examination, particular since Peritore identifies Freire as the catalyst which holds together the Worker's Party (PT) coalition of the Church and the left. "The PT and liberation Church share similar commitments to participatory democracy because of the strong influence of Paulo Freire's theories of cultural revolution."(255) We will first scrutinize the PT, then, as we progress, detail how it is that Freire is the ideological bridge between Christianity and Marxism, and what that might mean to educators concerned about social justice.
The Workers Party, which claims "about 350,000 militants" was formally organized in 1979. Peritore claims three factors gave it impetus: rapid industrialization spurring the numbers and anger of the working urban class, the crisis of the left's vanguard parties which bogged down in misused democratic centralism, the collapse of the U.S.S.R. and so on, and the massive participation of the Catholic Church. The PT poses itself as a veritable federation of the left, actually playing to the lowest common denominator of its member groups. For example, because of the influence of the church, the PT was unable to take a pro-gay stance and organizers had to turn outside to do so. "The PT's strong links to the Church make it difficult to support policies which contravene her doctrines".(256) Interestingly, one of the groups within the coalition-like party is "Em Tempo (In These Times)". The PT has within its ranks thousands of activists in or around the Ecclesiastical Base Communities (CEB's) from the Catholic Church. The PT also houses Trotskyists, Maoists, underground CPer's, middle class intellectuals, and,
"With this variety of conflicting interests there is constant political tension within the PT; it is always...popping like corn. Because there is no doctrinal center, but only agreement on democratic and egalitarian decision making methods and an open ended commitment to socialism, the party is not committed to creating programmatic consensus, but concerns itself with short and middle range solutions."(257)
The argument then is that, as it becomes more successful, presumably in seizing state power through elections, the PT will be superceded by more sophisticated organizations built spontaneously, from the bottom up, from the experience of the people.
"The fact that such a party could arise in Brazil indicates the penetration of Freire's thought...Freire has only codified the revolutionary practice of the church and various parties in Latin America into a sophisticated political theory which blends the best of European Marxism, Latin American Catholicism, and liberating popular action". (258)
Peritore simplifies the link of Catholicism and Marxism, dialectical materialism and mysticism, with this:
Generally the people begin from a religious perspective, the poverty
which they suffer is an oppression which signifies sin and contradiction
with God's designs. Then they pass to a moral vision which speaks to social
injustice, profit, and inordinate desire of gain. Next they come to a political
notion that there are class interests, exploitation, violation of basic
right, and, finally, come to an economic interpretation, the domination
of one class over another, inequalities of conditions and oppression.(259)
Now, there is a good deal missing within this lengthy equation which goes only a little beyond the bounds of what most North Americans know about Freire's conception of liberation (literacy--production--consciousness--liberation). But the logical leaps are quite similar. At least four veritable miracles occur. Superstition (a religious perspective) becomes dubious moralism becomes liberal skepticism (violations of basic rights) becomes liberationism (class inequality)---this in the absence of a leadership willing to declare the path. In fact, I posit that without decisive organized leadership, there is a good deal of history to demonstrate that people who pass through the stages above are as likely to become paralyzed with cynicism, or return to religion (which no one in PT asks them to abandon, indeed, one suspects the complexity that Freire likes to refer to is the fact that one can be all of these stages at the same time--and still lead the revolution) or make serious and deadly errors in revolutionary practice. I will examine this latter possibility below.(260) Many people are aware of social inequality. Every union organizer builds on that easily demonstrated social reality. What is difficult to overcome is the belief that nothing can be done, no action can lead to victory, that every leader becomes a new exploiter. The wreckage of Soviet state capitalism, seen by most as the failure of communism, supports this hopeless view. Nevertheless, the excitement in the PT is built on the idea that the lessons are learned. The mistakes they make will be new ones.
But pluralism, as described in a federation of the left coupled with an electoral program, the crux of the view and practice of the PT, is not new and has been problematic for agents of social change for some time. It raises questions like: How one can have direction in a socialist movement without worrying through what socialism is, how one can expect to obtain a complete inversion of state power without a conspiratorial and necessarily disciplined wing, how one can confront an organized enemy with deliberate disorganization--how one discourages police agents from simply winning internal power--is not analyzed. Alliances with the national bourgeoisie typify democratic socialist movements since the seminal moment when the Second International split into pieces over the decision on the part of the national parties to support their home ruling class in World War I rather than declare it an imperialist war to be transformed into communist revolution. Yet in Brazil, where the "economy is 40 percent state-owned, the PT has developed a detailed program for the rehabilitation and democratization of the state companies".(261) In addition, two key unions active in the PT are now in the process of using Freireian methods to train workers for particular industrial vocations to advance national production--and projects "that train union leaders and strengthen democratic, class conscience (sic) and independent unionism".(262) The union leadership recognizes the contradiction in vocational and liberation training, but only conceptualizes liberation as unionist activity. And the unions functioned under Vargas. In sum, rather than smash the corporatist state, the PT encourages workers to build it. On the one hand, this is not an innocent, from-the-ground-up vision of radical transformation, it is a clear political direction. On the other hand, while the PT would have it that this is a new turn in world radicalism, it is a move with long historical roots.
PT's social democratic view, its particular position on the development
of social change, is not thoroughly examined in Freire or Peritore, either
in the sense of the experience of the U.S. Students for a Democratic Society,
or, what appears more apropos, the early Russian Bolsheviks or the Mensheviks.
Closer to the Brazilian home is Freire's praise for Allende's Chile, a
paragon of the Socialist International, so easily smashed--at the cost
of hundreds of thousands of lives.(263)
Efforts to achieve socialism through the ballot, pluralist socialist parties,
both have a long and unenviable history.(264)
And what is finally at issue is the fact that this movement of social change
can lead to huge human losses. There is exemplary history closer to hand,
in Freire's work in Grenada and Guineau-Bissau, as we shall see. But first
we shall turn to the Catholic left, the other half of Freire's Christian
Marxism, then we will create a chronology of Freire's work, then lay the
theoretical framework which buttresses the special conception of literacy-consciousness-production--and
The Catholic Church supported the military coup in Brazil in 1964. In 1965, the church was suffering serious membership losses. Support for the coup accelerated a process of people turning elsewhere for surcease, a process which had been at work at least since the Fidelista coup in Cuba five years earlier. The Cuban experience (in a country where Catholicism was tolerated but not directly supported by the government(265)) ignited hope for social change throughout the hemisphere--and led people to believe that their lot in life might be improved while they were still on the planet. Smith recognizes the importance of the Cuban coup in motivating the Catholic Church. He argues the Cuban upheaval mobilized both those Catholics who were terrified by it, and those who sympathized with it, to move toward the poor.(266) In Brazil, more and more clergy and laity began to go work among the poor to counterbalance the inroads of Marxist (and sometimes Protestant) organizations among the poor." Once again, the communist spectre haunted Latin America.(267)
Within the church, since the fifties, there was a tendency which interpreted the gospel--still as gospel--but in ways purported to be new. "During the life of Pope John XXIII (1958-1963) and the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), the Catholic Church underwent some profound changes....demanding the active participation of all Christians in the worldly problems of injustice and violence...In Brazil this placed the church on the side of the poor, who form the largest part of the population".(268) And in Brazil, where we have seen the key organizing work for the church was done by a combination of Jesuits and lay workers (due to the historical absence of clergy in poor areas--clergy concentrated around wealth(269)) this sometimes meant that people active in the new gospel had to reevaluate their structural and intellectual relationships with the dominant Bishops.
These Catholic activists found structural support from powerful but dissident Bishops like Dom Halder Camara.(270) While rejecting the violence necessarily within the revolutionary Marxist framework, Camara articulated his own concerns about the possibility of revolution: "Is there anyone who does not know that on our continent the number of those who no longer believe in democracy and are ready to turn to violence is growing by leaps and bounds...?" (271) Camara later points to education for national production and democracy as both a path and a solution to this crisis and indicates that he believes the vision of liberation theology is a middle ground between Marxism and the repressive nature of capitalist development. "...we may be able, in some forms of Socialism, to separate the economic system from materialism, a separation that is impossible in Marxist Socialism."(272) God, in Camara's mind, and later Freire's, would be interested in dialectical materialism. Camara saw national economic development as the course which could lead toward the humanization of all of Latin America, and he believed this could happen through the creation of a mass movement to create pressure for it, not through a violent revolution. "The development of the Third World is in the best interests of the developed world."(273) Hence, Camara, from his Christian Catholic base, poses a unity of interests sweeping across all of humanity, a unity which would allow the diminution of colonial exploitation through altruistic technological and economic expansion. Otherwise, Camara suggests, there will be unavoidable upheavals, not in the interest of the imperial nations. Camara also relies heavily on the role of ideas, especially ideas rising from struggle which would drive home the need for peace, "When warfare has ceased, and I insist on reminding you that political realism may lead men to embrace the ideal of peace much sooner than we think--and when as a result the arms race has ceased, the technology of the North impelled by the necessity of full employment and as a servant of interests that go far beyond petty immediacy, will bring about the birth, expansion, and perfection of technology in the South.". (274)
Camara had been a Catholic activist since 1947 and rose to be the Bishop of Rio De Janero.(275) In sum, Camara envisioned a pacifist mass movement, under the educationist rubric of the Church. This movement would alleviate the social inequities--especially in agrarian areas--and restrain domineering governments which were, as he saw it, influential in the turn away from Catholicism. Noting that the Church was once an oppressor, he says "...the Catholic Church is now willing to adopt a new attitude from one end of the continent to the other, one in consonance with a developmental theology capable of becoming an extraordinary force for development". (276) Still, he indicates "It is far from our intention to stop at development; we begin there...Then and only then will development take on its full meaning: that of knowing more, producing more, having more in order to be more."(277) Hence, for Camara, education forms the basis for organizing for national economic development which leads to the possibilities of consciousness and salvation--for everyone, at least everyone in the purview of God. All of this, like the church itself, was propelled by Camara's strong belief in the role of ideology as a motive force, that is, ideas could sweep beyond the most narrow and immediate actions based on self-interest. I underline the convergence of Camara's position with what I will demonstrate is Freire's: education/literacy leads to expanded production which makes possible new levels of consciousness which then forms the basis of liberation/ humanization. Camara was a leader of the early moves toward the poor, a founder of some of the peasant circles, and became a close friend and advisor to Paulo Freire.(278)
The Latin American Catholic left drew intellectual support from men like Gustavo Gutierrez (women lay workers and nuns are spread throughout liberation theology--as foot soldiers. Some of their work surfaces in the documentary record, like Fernandes'. But a church whose leadership is structurally male, which traces links to its gods in an ascending order tied to gender, is likely to be heavily influenced by the publications of its male intellectuals). He traces his own questioning of Catholic doctrine to Hegel, who, in demonstrating the importance of the reformation, concluded that the individualist reading of the gospel is tied to his belief that "man is self-determined to be free...each individual should enlighten himself and should be able to determine his conscience according to the same source...all tradition and edifice of the Church became problematical, the principle of its authority is tumbled".(279) Richard Shaull was a conservative Catholic priest who, on turning to missionary work in Brazil, became a radical because he saw a world coming apart, ripped into social classes rapidly at odds with each other and people engaged in dehumanizing work. He rejected both Marx and Hegel, one because the Marxist societies he saw, like Cuba and China, were structured like capitalist societies and because people drew their human worth from their jobs and incomes, and Hegel because he too could not solve the riddle of man versus nature. Shaull then claimed a new consciousness would deliver humanity, that is, self-realization. "Self realization means we name our world, we create our own meanings " (his emphasis) and urges a new sense of community recognized in the commonality of human interest.(280)
While Guterriez and Shaull recognize modest differences within their understanding of liberation theology, it is important to emphasize their own belief that liberation extends from the center of the Church--and originates in the mind. Christianity subsumes Marxism, not vice versa.(281) Jarvis makes the nature of this absorption, or the resolution of the contradiction, clear: "While this movement had obviously embraced some ideas that could be claimed to have stemmed from Marxism, it must be pointed out that the movement actually gained control of the student movement in Brazil from the Marxists, so that it would be wrong to claim that the two were one or that they were working together".(282) This struggle must take place on a philosophical plane as well as a practical one. Smith argues that the Christian vision is to incorporate the mere approximation of truth represented by Marxism into the encompassing view of Christianity.(283) Hence, there is evidence that liberation theology is above all an effort to resurrect the popularity of the Catholic church. This is the strategy. The tactic, which sometimes assumes "essentially a Leninist approach, seeking a revolutionary process spearheaded by a vanguard consisting of leftist intelligentsia", is simply that, a tactical move.(284) This is, then, a mix of opportunism, the effort to chase the diminishing Catholic base--declining church membership--and sectarianism, an effort made possible only through the intervention of enlightened missionaries whose ineluctably totalized view lighted the way. And the Catholic wing, or at least a significant part of it, recognized that there is no such thing as a non-antagonistic contradiction, they bent their work against ignorance to become work against communism. I discuss further this blend of opportunism and sectarianism, and the nature of united opposites, contradictions, below. Whatever the competing tactics and strategies, Marxists and theologians believed they discovered common ground.
The way the Catholic intellectuals and socialists (Castro backed liberation theology(285)) found through their apparently irreconcilable differences was via the Frankfurt school of critical theory. While opposing this connection, and arguing that "Liberation theology must (be liberated) from the state and marxism from history", Pottenger notes that the tasks taken up by the Frankfurt group may represent, in the minds of some liberation theologists, a theological task. Moreover, he points to Gutierrez' references to Gramsci and Marcuse, and while deriding their importance, notes the linkages of the liberationists and Gramsci's "organic intellectuals who exercise the prophetic function of denouncing social injustice".(286) Freire, of course, relies heavily, if eclectically, on Hegel, the Frankfurt school, and its inheritors. Indeed, Freire acknowledges he has a practical role in bridging the ideological gaps of Christianity and Marxism in "Pedagogy for Liberation". Here he outlines his front-line efforts to unite a meeting of feuding Christians and Marxists, coincidentally in Frankfurt, Germany. "Two or three groups of progressive intellectuals, respectively Marxists and Christians, who did not relate to well to each other, agreed to come together for a study day provided I took part. I have always found it worthwhile to serve as a pretext for a good cause."(287)
Pottenger, however, looks under the bed when he should look in it. It is not necessary to search for the interstices within the two philosophies, Christianity and the orthodox interpretations of Marxism, to probe for the openings within each to discover where one might invade the other. The ideas intersect, flow one into the other, in the realm of literacy, national economic development, support for a colonial bourgeoisie, and consciousness for liberation.
Catholic missionaries, intellectuals, and lay workers, armed with a new theology, a radical intellectual base giving them some bridges to what many of them saw as their Marxist counterparts, and some support from officialdom, began to engage the poor. They did so using many of the ideas of Paulo Freire, somewhat before he articulated them.(288) They built Ecclesiastical Base Communities (CEB's) on lines quite like those used in the early communist Peasant Leagues in Brazil---indeed some argue that Francisco Juliao's work in the Peasant Leagues are the "tap root of dialogic education."(289) While Fernandes indicates there is "no uniform methodology followed by all CEB's", at the same time she demonstrates some common threads. For example, the focus of most CEB's is "discussion of the gospel". "The principle objective is to stimulate a new type of church, more evangelistic and liberating than sacramental". Fernandes describes what he calls the "See-judge-act" system embedded in much of Freire's work as the path of most CEB's. That is, people discuss problems, they "consider how a Christian would act on them", and, after "reflection about the problems through a Bible reading", they act.(290) In her mind, one of the key goals is to "initiate social change which will make real life experience as close as possible to the gospel".(291) While Smith argues there were as many as 90,000 Freireian ("conscientized") CEB's at work in Brazil in the 1970's, (292) Fernandes indicates that in a society where the census itself is in question, "the exact number is not known....some people say 80,000, others say 200,000".(293) Whatever the number, it appears there are many, many people in Brazil with experience in CEB's. What is important is just how they are being urged to behave--and why, with so many activists engaged, so little has changed. To discover where these movements, the left as represented especially by Freire's PT and the liberation wing of the Catholic church which Freire helps lead, are headed, we now must locate Freire in time, making possible a contextual approach to his beliefs. Then we turn to Freire's ideas. And then to judge his acts, his practice, which is now world-wide. The impact of his exile from Brazil, as Smith sees it, was to spread his ideas to Chile, then throughout Latin America.(294) And our route generally follows the see-judge-act avenue that Freire endorses.
There is one remaining remarkable element. Freire writes as though Brazil's
history is predominantly a history of submission and the acceptance of
oppression, and because there has been little resistance, the country lacks
a democratic experience. Indeed, he says, in Pedagogy of the Oppressed,
that oppressed people are "divided and unauthentic" . (295)
Much of this stems from the fact that Portuguese imperialism was disconnected
from the land and the people, that lay outside the interests of the land
and the nation and only withdrew resources. What opened up--and for Freire
opening is equated with literacy and consciousness-- Brazil, above all,
was the development of industry.(296)
I believe I have demonstrated that Freire's contention that the people
of Brazil have been submissive is not true. Moreover, within the resistance
movements, there has been considerable striving for democratic activity.
I think his historical misstep here then makes it possible for him to believe
that a local bourgeoisie is preferable to an imperialist on, and that reliance
on the development of industry will improve life.
Freire's chronology is discussed at length in a variety of sources, the most rigorous in textual analysis and historical backgroud among them, in my mind, written by Taylor and Dewitt--the former offering a fine chronology of Freire's texts at the close of his book. My purpose here is not to duplicate the work already done, but to merely sketch a chronological background to make possible a narrative of Freire's ideas and practice. This goal can be made most readable with brevity--but marked with the little controversies that surround any renowned personality.
Freire was born in 1921 in Recife, the site later to be the base of the SUDENE project. Freire's mother was a devout Catholic, his father, in the military police, an unattached spiritualist. His family was sufficiently middle class to guarantee his education in private school--and keep the piano, even through the depression of 1928 to 1932, when he first experienced hunger. This middle class background, with a father in the military police in a period that saw the transition from a bourgeoisie democratic agrarian society to a corporatist-fascist government, must be considered important--especially when taking into account Freire's fond memories of his father who died when Paulo was thirteen.(297)
Freire entered Pernambuco University of Recife and, depending on the source, studied law, philosophy, history and/or linguistics. There, he worked as a welfare official for a private institution, as a high school teacher and as an adult literacy worker.(298) The record grows more muddled when he graduated in 1959. Taylor notes that some have him as a labor lawyer, others as an adult literacy specialist. Elias, a supporter of the contention that above all Freire is a Catholic, has Freire as a high school teacher after he completed his dissertation in 1959. No one else agrees.(299) All agree on his 1944 marriage to Elza Maia Costa Oliveira and her importance to him. Freire credits her with the spirit and inspiration for much of his writing and it is clear he was devastated by her death. As Taylor notes, "Literacy, Reading the Word and the World, is eloquently dedicated to her," as "to Elsa, whose memory inspires hope, always". (300)
In 1961, under a reformist national government, Freire met with Juliao and the Mayor of Recife and was invited to put together a literacy program for the Northeast. At this point, Freire agrees with his biographers. He was a reformer, not a revolutionary. But while the aim was reform, it is also clear that "the goals of these programs were blatantly political".(301)
Freire modeled the literacy programs directly on the achievements of the Cuban literacy projects which had reached a stage of completion the year before. However, while the Cubans aimed at a rank and file approach based on the motivation of the revolution, "literally, each one teach one", Freire relied on a more directive and traditional model of professional teachers and university-trained researchers engaging and investigating communities and encouraging people to read.(302) As noted, the literacy project received funds from the U.S. Agency for International Development (AID) which was, at that time, busy funnelling about $20 million dollars into Chile to influence the election there.(303) This appears to be the first of Freire's ties with several similar international relief organizations. There is no evidence to show that Freire ever was aware of the intelligence ties of AID.(304) To the contrary, the CIA sponsored efforts, repeatedly, which wrecked Freire's literacy projects, in Chile shortly thereafter for example. It is ironic, though, that the revolutionary Freire has spent so much time in leadership positions on the payrolls of cultural organizations of classes in power. Freire claims remarkable success for the reading program and its attendant cultural circles. He says if the coup had not have intervened, "there would have been more than 20,000 cultural circles functioning throughout the country".(305) Freire biographer John Elias offers the practical impact. He says the program taught about "three hundred workers to read in forty-five days".(306)
In early 1964, shortly after the Brazilian military coup, Freire was arrested and imprisoned. There is some debate about how long he was held. Taylor notes this dispute, an argument over whether Freire spent 70 or 75 days in jail, whether or not he was once released and re-arrested, and the conditions of the jail itself. Freire has made conflicting comments. He told Dewitt, in a face to face interview, that he was jailed for seventy days and was then exiled to Chile where he went to work for UNESCO. Taylor has him jailed for seventy-five days over two periods, and first traveling to Bolivia for a quick stay, then on to Chile where he worked for, initially, the University of Chile, then UNESCO.(307) Both agree that Freire wrote Education, the Practice of Freedom in 1967, in Chile, came to the U.S. for a brief stay at Harvard, and moved to Geneva where he worked for the World Council of Churches in Geneva. No one, including Freire, has detailed how it is that he made the Harvard connection, an important social leap for a modest middle-class Brazilian educator. Freire stresses his commitment to Brazil when he calls this period, at Santiago, Harvard and Geneva, his "exile". Elias argues that it was the expulsion from Brazil that transformed Freire from a liberal reformer into what Elias believes is a Christian revolutionary.(308) This is a significant contextual shift, practice informing theory, which is traceable in Freire's life. Freire agrees with Elias regarding Freire's naive approach prior to his exile."All these things taught me how we needed a political practice in society that would be a permanent process for freedom, which would include an education that liberates". (309) So, Freire proposes that he enriches his theory through practice, though his pedagogy would seem to call for a truly radical transformation of most people--that would go beyond his own.
From the time of his expulsion to 1980, Freire's influence spread to the point where he became the "best known educator in the world".(310) His ideas were applied in Africa, in Latin America, the Caribbean, and in the United States. In this interregnum, he published a series of articles and "developed a great enthusiasm for 'talked books'". One of them, A Pedagogy for Liberation, benefits from "Ira Shor's incisive logic and disciplined analysis", but others, like Learning to Question, are indicative of the unfortunate and sometimes fawning cult that has grown around Freire, with or without his permission.(311)
Freire worked as the Secretary of Education in Sao Paulo from 1989 to 1991, an appointment gained through his influence as a founding member of the Workers party--now in power in Sao Paulo--and a period memorialized by Pedagogy of the City which reiterates the ideas and practices, "rejecting elitism and authoritarianism", he describes at the beginning, in Education for Critical Consciousness.(312)
In sum, Freire is seen as a revolutionary and a Christian, as an educator
and liberator, as one of the people and a renowned expert, as a humble
man, yet a degreed professor. Using Freire's own paradigm which indicates
that what people do influences how they think, it is important to note
his middle class background, the fact that he has never held, in any record
I have examined, a worker's job, or even been paid by the hour, and that
he has usually, despite his radical reputation, worked in upper-middle
class professional roles on the payroll of the people holding state power
wherever he was.(313) He directs much
of his work toward illiterates and, especially, peasants. But he has never
lived among them. He claims to be a man of the Northeast, but lives in
Sao Paulo.(314) He rarely refers to the
industrial working class, though he claims to be a Marxist. He is fascinated
with the legacy of master-slave relationships. But he deconstructs the
functions of racism ahistorically and only in the most cursory ways. (315)
He is, without question, a great teacher who has contributed to movements
which understood themselves to be non-dogmatically revolutionary, yet he
is a revolutionary with a clear program, and still he is appropriated as
a reformer. But people have died for his ideas, as Jarvis rather graphically
demonstrates.(316) Given that import,
it is now time to see more specifically what the man is talking about.
I believe I have constructed the context which is the environment for Freire's
textual work, to which we now turn.
I have demonstrated that Paulo Freire is a practicing Catholic and noted the interesting intersections of his Christianity and the Gnostic sect to which he refers in some of his work. Taylor claims that "the language of the Christian faith is more than the mere clothes for dressing and presentation; it is actually the skeleton or underpinning of his philosophy and social analysis....Freire was never converted to Marxis(m).."(321)
Rather than simply contradict Taylor's belief, here I hope to merely work it through a little more thoroughly. I think Taylor's contribution to understanding Freire surpasses any other to date, and I hope to build on it. But, after all, Freire does refer to himself as a Christian-Marxist. I plan to examine what Freire might be appropriating from Christianity and to delve more fully into how it is that Christianity and orthodox Marxism can be embodied--one primary over the other--logically, the specific intersections, in the thinking of one person. To make this exploration, I pass briefly through key concepts in Hegel that seem to be adopted in Freire--beyond the Freireian claims to dialectics. But there is no need to hunt through the gaps in Christian, Hegelian, and orthodox Marxist thinking to find the some convergence of ideas, there is linkage which I will enumerate.
To accomplish this, I will trace further the concordance of Christian terminology with Freire's thinking, show how it is this traces through Hegel into Freire, and finally demonstrate theoretically how it is that Christian/Hegelian idealism can be so tied to a practical orthodox Marxist project. I provided the flesh of this analysis in the discussion above linking what I pose is the over-arching and ineluctably totalized view of religiosity to the nationalism, idolatry, reliance on inegalitarian authorities and the state, and the inegalitarianism of the history of both social democracy and powerful strains of Marxism. Now I go to the theoretical bones of the matter. Ahead, I will demonstrate how this played out in practice in Grenada, and urge that there are within Marxism and Freire clues which can defeat some of the errors of the past, and finally trace what class is moving Freire.
Gollobin notes, "many of the ethical imperatives of (religions) hark back to the egalitarianism and non-antagonism of primitive communal society", and demonstrates that Engels saw, in the Epistles of Paul, pre-communist ethics which could be exemplary for the future.(322) Gollobin moves forward to recognize that "liberation theology" relates to the decline of imperialism as the Reformation did to the collapse of feudalism, not to restore history and rationality, but to save the church and its mysticism through new interpretations. So Gollobin sees a link in the ethical roots of Christian and Marxist views, and perhaps in their long-term goals, but impugns the motives of religious movements and their ability or need to deconstruct reality beyond the most base stimulus.
Henry Giroux writes, "Freire joins history and theology in order to provide the theoretical basis for a radical pedagogy that combines hope, critical reflection, and collective struggle."(323) Later in the same piece, Giroux says, "there are no appeals to universal laws or historical necessity here".(324) This interesting view, that theology and history are one, or can be in the hands of the right person, is a position that claims to be liberating by suggesting the interpretation of history is without laws or necessity--perhaps through theology. I find Giroux's effort to equate history, theology and hope, untenable. Yet I do see links between Freire's Christianity and Marxism which are finally secondary, but important.
Dialectical materialism insists on the preeminence of matter and rational tests, religion on the primacy that religion assigns to ceded consciousness, irrationality, ultimately, faith. Faith is the bottom line of religion, praxis the bottom line of Marxism. This establishes primary difference between Marxism and idealism, whatever their likenesses. But in the methods Christianity and Marxism use to situate their terrain are important potential contributions about the nature of leadership, the prominence of ideology, and the unity possible in intellectual and material equality. There are additional secondary bonds between Marxism and Christianity in their views of the importance of an integrated, unified world of the distant past, their understanding that this world was shattered through human action, and their proposals for a future which could reunite humanity, perhaps with itself: Eden, the fall, heaven; primitive communism, private property, communism; or, simple unity, crisis, reconciliation. Moreover, there are similar errors in powerful interpretations of both views, regarding the nature of the nation-state for example, which, in this ancillary sense, tie one to the other.
Again, what is primary about the relationship between Christianity and materialism is difference. While Christian Smith believes it is possible for Christians to adopt the Marxist critique, which he believes is wrapped up by theories of class struggle; it remains that Christianity is wholly unable to accept the materialist base of reality, and, thus, is unable to fully comprehend the dialectical nature of class struggle, for that too in Christianity is played out on God's fields. It is not possible to be a Christian and deny God, to be an idealist materialist. It is the secondary links between Christianity and Marxism, as touched on in Freire, that I find interesting, and perhaps generative.(325)
Christianity begins with a god, and a word, each in capitals. "God created by His Word and reveals by it, so the Word is an image of God at work in the world. The Word is distant from God but divine".(326)
Language, and its content--ideology--is extraordinarily important to Christianity--and to Freire. The biblical word not only names, "but determines the nature of what is named".(327) Beyond that, "The words I have spoken to you are spirit, and they are life".(328) Hence, the naming of things is a powerful act, indeed, it is to virtually bring things to being and rule them. Adam, I note, named Eve, and the animals.(329)
Through naming, and believing, comes the possibility of salvation and, further, it becomes necessary as the historical passage moves distant from the moment of miracles, that people believe not in the immediacy of their senses but in the representations of what was miraculous. Blood becomes wine, but not any wine; the written word, but not just any written word, is divine. Hence the importance of disciplined messengers, disciplined (note the root) by the clear message, "Do not go beyond what is written".(330)
The link between the people and God, then, is language, embodied in the covenant, the promise of deliverance, and the legends regarding sacrifice and miracles.
What is written, in the right text, must be believed, and believed so completely that responsibility for its interpretation lies within the faithful--not merely through recitation, but through internalized critique--guilt.
"Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced, and the whole world held accountable to God. Therefore, no one will be declared righteous in His sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin".(331)
This is the kind of ideology that can make people act well beyond their material self-interest, as did Jesuit missionaries attempting to convert and organize Latin America. These disciples had to be convinced they were following a leader molded with self-sacrifice.
"When he finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. 'Do you understand what I have done for you? You call me Teacher and Lord and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash another's feet." John 13:20(332)
This style of leadership is important. At once, the leader is reified, made into a God, yet made one with the disciples who are convinced to spread the word--not that they are God, but they know his will and what must be done. Again, at issue is whether they act on an illusion, or in their own interests and/or those interests of the people they are to convince. And, over time, as disciples become clergy, there is a material tie between their survival as a group and the discipline they are able to muster in others, those who must pay the dues. The confusion of knowing the will of god and becoming a law-giver, is a sin, divination.(333) This is a stratification in which people are encouraged to surrender their freedom and material equality in exchange for being told what to think--and do--in both instances under the aegis of people who know what is best, but whose nirvana is sufficiently far off to necessitate that the mass of people live with inequality for a time indefinite. This is salvation.
The fall, concrete suffering, comes through temptation, a form of false consciousness which denies or doubts the word, which accepts unity with the material world rather than the healing nature of obedience. Indeed, arrogant disobedience to the word caused not only banishment from unity with nirvana but broke one world language into a cacophony of many languages, a curse from God.(334) The way back to the deity, reconciliation, is through the word and the leadership of the clergy who can lead the way to rebirth.
There is a sense of work in formative Christianity, but no working class. There is the work of god (Genesis 2:2, "God ended His work") and there are works devoted to God (Eccl. 12:14 "God shall bring every work into judgement") and there is the work of a developing merchant class and a peasantry (Romans 8:28, "All things worketh together for good"), but there is no industrial work force, no collective work on a mass scale, addressed.
I note some similarity with Freire's literacy projects at work here:
idealism superceding materialism, but adopting a tentatively and secondarily
materialist posture, that is, the recognition of suffering and alienation.
Language becomes the prime mover, after god, the origin. Naming is raised
to the level of ruling. Education for Critical Consciousness traces
the vital nature of interpretation and language, coupled with solidarity
that is made possible by "communion", beyond and above commonality of interests.
Freire argues that a higher stage of understanding unites people with the
world in a state of, "almost total engagement. Existence is a dynamic concept,
implying eternal dialogue between man and man, man and the world, between
man and his Creator. It is dialogue that makes man an historical being."(335)
Teaching and believing circumvent specific forms of resistance, become
action. Alienation from grace is an ideological construct caused by disobedience
and arrogance, divination or, in Freire, the inability to capture the word
and hence comprehend what he believes is the correct praxis--a praxis not
fitted to the material world in any concrete way, but simply through dialogue,
his intellectual presentation of freedom, and the party line on the importance
of production. While Freire claims that "everything is to be presented
problematically", with the co-participation of educator and student, it
remains that the choice of problems and the method of problematicizing
is invariably in the hands of the more powerful party.(336)
Leadership grows distant from the rank and file in both decision-making
and practical rewards, hence, specialization in the production of false
consciousness becomes evangelism or expertise. Freire always has relied
on experts, intellectuals, to lead his projects.(337)
The existence of a god or the social democratic party must be promulgated.
Both of these ideological positions historically grow rigid through the
needs of elites to remain as elites; the reification of language becomes
rooted in materiality. At once, the power of ideology is elevated on a
superstructure of hope for a better world, but debased on a plane which
simply propagates, at least, spiritual and functional inequality. Moreover,
the peasantry is elevated in importance, a source of concentration.(338)
Nevertheless, on secondary planes, those questions dealing with the importance
of ideology and the presentation/organization of a utopian sense of a better
world, there are within Christianity and Freire insights that can propel
Marx made much the same critique of Hegel, who is appropriated sometimes wholesale by Freire. Indeed, Dewitt claims that to read Freire is to re-read the Phenomenology of the Spirit.(339) Taylor indicates Freire derives his notion of history from Hegel through readings of Karl Kosik.(340) The sense of historical development depicted in Education for Critical Consciousness is distinctly Hegelian in its depiction of history as being the analysis of ideas:
An historical epoch is characterized by a series of aspirations, concerns, ideas and values in search of fulfillment; by ways of being and behaving, by more or less generalized attitudes. The representations of many of these aspirations, concerns and values, as well as the obstacles to their fulfillment, constitute the themes of that epoch, which in turn indicates the tasks to be carried out.(341)
And Hegel had moved to improve the marketability of Christianity and the state in ways not dissimilar to the maneuvers adopted by the liberation theologists. Hegel sought to acknowledge the material world, matter in motion, only in the subordinate sense that it was staged to augment the progress of consciousness, the Absolute Idea. Hegel's cardinal tenet is summed up in his "Logic", "Every philosophy is essentially an idealism or at least has idealism for its principle, and the question then is only how far this principle is actually carried out".(342)
For Hegel, in the beginning is Reason, then alienation from Reason, struggles toward reason that are individual and collective, and finally return to the sole Reason: Hegel's own idea of himself. This is his unity, split, reunion, scenario; equivalent to the Fall in Christianity.
So Hegel poses the most sharply honed form of idealism, one that argues, through the eradication of the finite, that is, through the wholesale denial of sense-being and immediate reality, that all is non-being and only the infinite, philosophy at its highest stages, exists. Philosophy moves through a series of stages toward Absolute Reason, the Divine Ideal. But, subsumed beneath philosophy and reason, which construct all which appears to be, is the idea of the material world.(343) In his proofs on this proposition, Hegel argues that all previous philosophy has been insufficiently dialectical, that is, in addressing the material world, it has simply posed the Idea as not the material world, a binary which serves to make the Idea itself a materiality, reifies the Idea to the point of measurable being when, in fact, the Idea is infinite, immeasurable, and over-arching.(344) In other words, the positioning of the Idea as a binary to the material world, a binary opposite, simply creates another material being--two finites--as opposed to what he asserts is the correct path to all interpretation: the Idea as above, not in contradiction to.
This then makes the tight Logic possible, uninterrupted by the consequences of material contradiction, and replicable, repairable, within what I believe are the limited and self-bounded perimeters of the mind. But within this construct, the real world once again becomes viable. As Coletti demonstrates:
"In order for the infinite to be comprehended in a coherent fashion, the finite must be destroyed, the world annihilated: the infinite in fact, cannot have alongside itself another reality which limits it. On the other hand, once the finite is expunged...the infinite can pass over from the beyond to the here and now, that is, become flesh and take on earthly attire."(345)
Hence, there is no class struggle, but Reason, within which class struggle may be built. There is no real, but only the Idea of the real, and then the construction of what may, or may not, be real. Dialectics are applied to the Reason, the edifice of the mind; yet dialectics are applicable since the working out of oppositions within finites is the process which leads toward the Divine Idea, Reason. And, within the appearance of an open system of dialectics, Reason is the final and utterly closed end: the Absolute Idea to which there is no contradiction, which is "the beautiful harmony of the tranquil equilibrium of the ethical spirit" and which has no link to the material world but to be not within it.(346)
Hegel, in building a complex irrational apology for Christianity and the Prussian state, duplicated the stages of Eden, the crisis and fall, and the possibility of infinite reconciliation--all under the gaze of the Spirit--a process which is equated with human progress. The Spirit is a unity of individual and collective human intellect. Alienation is the distancing of people from reason, and from the processes which can return them to reason: love and intellectual propinquity. Alienation in Hegel sees individuals working through the necessities of economic strife toward self-actualization, a higher recognition of reason, via a constricted sense of free choice. Suffering is an indication of alienation, proof of error. Yet suffering is only an intellectual representation. Indeed, to be poor is, above all, not to starve, but to be less conscious, even not conscious, of poverty.(347) Hegel did notice the poor and saw poverty as a flaw in the state, but simply directed the poor to beg.
The Phenomenology of the Spirit examines the process of development toward the Absolute Idea through the development of nations, laws, families and social consciousness, all of which is mediated by the Spirit's striving for ethical action, love, communicated in words and in law. The individual is part of a social process, "Yet the individual is not without power. His power is the absolute, pure abstraction...which constitutes the self-consciousness of the whole nation". What is important in this progression is not the series of events, but the thoughts, theories, which rise from action. Therefore, what is primary in the understanding of this process is the examination of representations, not action itself--or action only in a secondary, even bemused, sense. Praxis occurs only as a secondary instance: it does occur, but it is not ultimately the test of relative or absolute truth, but more a part of a process toward a greater external truth, the process toward the Absolute Idea.(348)
Lukacs presents the Hegelian dialectic as a rational current in an irrational river. He sees Hegel's "objective idealism" as a step forward in problematizing the processes which could in fact leap into a rational approach to the material world, that is, Lukacs saw the internal dialectic as rich and largely logical as opposed to the deliberately, celebratively irrational approach taken up by Fichte. Two paragraphs from Lukacs on this matter are worth quoting in detail:
"Now irrationalism always begins with this (necessary, irrevocable, but always relative) discrepancy between the intellectual reflection and the objective original. The source of the discrepancy lies in the fact that the tasks directly presented to thought in a given instance, as long as they are still tasks, still unresolved problems, appear in a form which at first gives the impression that thought, the forming of concepts, breaks down in the face of reality, that the reality confronting thought represents and area beyond reason (the rationality of the category system of the conceptual method used so far). Hegel...analyzed a..real road to a resolution of these difficulties...
"..What if (however) a virtue is made of ...the inability to comprehend the world intellectually? That if a virtue is made of this necessity and the inability to comprehend the world intellectually is presented as a 'higher perception as faith, intuition, and so on? Clearly this problem will crop up at every stage of knowledge and social development, ie., each time that social evolution and hence science and philosophy are forced to make a leap forward in order to answer the real questions arising. ..It is not chiefly intellectual and philosophical considerations which decide a thinker's choice between the old and the new, but class allegiance...(which is often) halted at the threshold of knowledge and turned round and fled in the opposite direction". (349)
Religion, Philosophy and Art, the composites of Hegelian culture taken in order of importance, are for Hegel the highest attainable human activities, those which reach into the loftiest of human properties. Art, beauty, and specifically Hegel's own philosophy, are objective, that is, only so defined when they are in harmony with the Divine Idea, his. For example, for Hegel, Greek art and architecture came close to divine perfection. Artistic creativity, embodied in the artist of Hegel's choice, was equivalent to the work of nature. Remarkably, in Phenomenology of the Spirit, Hegel considers art within the subsection "Religion". However, for Hegel, philosophy and religion strip ahead of art, for only these two factors go beyond intuition and into the struggle that he saw as requisite in abstract thinking represented by religion on the one hand and philosophy on the other. These latter move the human condition closest to the Divine Idea. Hence, in the order of things, culture stands above any other form of human engagement. And, as Alan Wood notes, people create this particular kind of culture through communication, through language and writing.(350)
The state, government in Hegel, is held together by consent, propriety, not force, and is represented in its preeminence by the constitutional monarch who embodies the needs of all subjects, and who, as the signifier of the state, becomes "the march of God on earth."(351) Since the constitutional monarch is desireable because he/she is above political strife, there can be no rational complaint about the privileges accorded to him or her.
Nations are "the bearers and actualizers of the spiritual principle in the forms of the political constitution".(352) But the state AS God is not the state equivalent to god for the Divine Idea stands outside and above the state itself. Importantly, the state stands above human struggle, mediates it, toward the greater purpose, the Divine Idea.
Hegel suggests that radical social change, toward the goal of the Absolute Idea, is generated by knowledge. This kind of knowledge is gained through the individual's and the state's deepening self-knowledge, which itself derives from the consideration of their development as conscious entities struggling for God. In other words, social change takes place through the turn inward of the state itself and its constituents, through comprehension, not battle.(353)
Knowledge is gained through education, formal and informal, in which the familiar is counterposed with the unfamiliar. Individuals learn in much the same way nations do, through a turn inward, contemplation, to consider oppositions that might occur in the material world. For example, Hegel suggests that a study of the ancient world and Latin serve as a base for educational systems since people are already familiar with elements of each discipline, but that each is also sufficiently unfamiliar to allow the systematizing of thought. Thus, Hegel suggests educators build on what is known, and move toward the structure of what is not known. Hegel concentrates here on language and the interpretation of reason, seeking "estrangement of the mind from its natural essence and state..."(354)
The method of estrangement is an enriched form of the "Socratic dialogue, in which the method of assertion and critical counterassertion or denial develops a new affirmation, expressing the question, and the tentative answer, more clearly than before".(355) But all counterassertion, negation, occurs within the perimeters of the Divine Idea, and a sophisticated consciousness is won through contemplation.
Hegel was himself a teacher. He contended that real education, that which through the portrayal of intellectual oppositions would move toward the Absolute Idea, could only be actualized by teachers "like Luther, who themselves belong to the people and to mankind". (356)
In Christianity, in Hegel, and in Freire, I note these critical factors:
Idealism (the primacy of consciousness over being), the scenario of unity,
split, reconciliation achieved through dialogue, the primacy of culture,
alienation overcome with language, false consciousness defeated by reflection,
a reliance on leadership which is given, virtually by definition, uncriticized
privileges which reify the ideas of privileged leaders, remarkable attention
to language and representations, and a missionary sense of social change:
We know what is best for you and we will help. However, like Hegel's insistence
on a disciplined and logical dialogue, like the Christian sense of equality
before god, I note within Freire, who has never equated theology and history,
the possibilities for critique which can move the struggle for democracy
and self-actualization forward.
Freire often refers to Marx's "Theses on Fuerbach" as one of the most brilliant documents of Freire's age.(357) It is of interest that this is Freire's repeated choice of good Marxism. The Theses form the outline of the "German Ideology", but are lightened by the absence of the sharp expression of materialism which focuses the later piece. Freire is often focused on the development of consciousness, as his practice in literacy projects suggests. Allan Wood positions Hegel as linked to Marx through their mutual goal of "self-transparency", that is, freedom attained through the recognition of, for Hegel, Reason, for Marx, collective self-interest, class struggle.(358) Indeed, the early Marx came at the question of unity, crisis, reconciliation through the issue of alienation. And his conception of false consciousness has historical roots in the attacks of the French Enlightenment of the church and the priesthood. Holbach argued that "ignorance and fear are the two great hinges of all religion", while Helvetius offered the solution: "The only means of succeeding in this is to pull off their masks,...and show that the protectors of ignorance are the most cruel enemies of humanity".(359) But Marx soon concluded that what was at issue on Earth was neither an edifice of God, nor the construction of the representations of God, but the struggle for production which lies at the heart of the key contradiction in the world: the contradiction between the private ownership of the means and mode of production at odds with the social nature of production itself.
From this primary contradiction, which is a social development in the material world, rising out of a rigorous study of that world, comes the coherent philosophy of class struggle, alienation, the pivotal role of the working class as an agent of social change, false consciousness, revolution, and in our century, socialism.
Conceptions of modern socialism have moved well beyond Marx's limited prescriptions which he outlined in the Critique of the Gotha Program. In this section I hope to lay out what it is that traditionally is seen to be socialism, that stage between capitalism and communism. I take this up theoretically and historically to demonstrate what of Marxism/socialism is adopted by Freire and to lay the groundwork for an analysis of the literacy project in briefly-socialist Grenada which was established under the Freire's curricular and political leadership. I am aware there are many kinds of socialism, from that defined by the Socialist International during and after World War I to that presented by Michael Harrington and the Democratic Socialists of America.(360) Nevertheless, I will discuss here that socialism which has defined the others, the socialism which achieved the greatest power. This means I see Russian and Chinese socialism as centrifugal to the rest, the origin of the other debates. Hence I will focus on interpretations of socialism put forward primarily by Chinese and Russian Marxists, and I will use these ideas as a centerpiece with which to compare Freire's. Here I will address these key aspects of socialism: the state, economic and political relations, political leadership and political parties, and the methods and goals of socialism.
Lenin had theorized the nature of the state, building on Engels' Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State, in The State and Revolution. Here Lenin describes the state as the "product and manifestation of the irreconcilability of class antagonisms", an "organ of oppression of one class by another".(361) Consequently, "every state is not free, not a 'peoples state'".(362) Moreover, the bourgeois state cannot "be superseded by the proletarian state (the dictatorship of the proletariat), but, as a general rule, only through a violent revolution."(363) In sum, it is not possible to peacefully accede to the top of the bourgeois state; it must be smashed, completely.(364) Once the proletarian revolution is in sway, the workers require a state apparatus to hold the remnants of the bourgeoisie in check, the proletarian dictatorship. Lenin makes it clear that Marxism goes well beyond conceptions of class struggle: "Only he is a Marxist who extends the recognition of the class struggle to the recognition of the dictatorship of the proletariat".(365) Here Lenin begins to problematize the political and economic issues within this notion of the state. He argues that the proletarian dictatorship, though a repressive force, is actually a greater form of democracy because, on the one hand, it is representative of the mass of people, and the other hand, there is a material link to the interests of the people,
"All officials, without exception, elected and subject to recall at
any time, their salaries reduced to the level of ordinary 'workingman's
wages'--these simple and self- evident democratic measures, while completely
uniting the interests of the workers and the majority of the peasants,
at the same time, serve as a bridge from capitalism to socialism."(366)
Lenin then goes forward to describe his belief that socialism, through the state power exercised by the proletariat, will move increasingly toward political and economic equality. Lenin tries to work through this extraordinarily difficult proposition by underlining his belief that the socialist state, the first phase of communism, "cannot produce justice and equality, difference and unjust differences still exist, but the exploitation of man by man will have become impossible, because it will be impossible to seize the means of production as private property."(367) In State and Revolution, Lenin makes it clear that the revolutionary party and the state are two distinct entities, with the party on the one hand demanding more of its members, and the party on the other hand taking a leadership role in the operation of the state apparatus.(368) There is, in Lenin's writing, an important sense that party leadership is to be authoritative, even ruthless, but not privileged, at least in economic terms. Nevertheless, Lenin understood that terror would be a necessary part of Bolshevik rule.(369) Lenin analyzes Marx's application of the particular nature of equality, as opposed to a general abstraction, and indicates, without his usual specificity, that the main thing holding back the proletarian demand of democracy and equality is the trace of capitalism in cultural traditions.(370) However, the "expropriation of the capitalists will inevitably result in an enormous development of the productive forces," which will lay the material base of abundance necessary for the state to wither away and the highest stage of communism to be achieved.(371)
In sum, Lenin sees the state as a weapon of class struggle. He believes that, in nearly every instance, it is necessary to smash the capitalist state and establish something entirely new, supervised at an undetermined distance by the revolutionary party. He argues it is necessary to pass through a stage of social inequality which nevertheless will be more equal and more democratic than the past. The greater democracy claimed by the proletarian dictatorship is wrapped in the egalitarian practices of state functionaries and enhanced by what Lenin feels will be necessarily an increase in production and the standard of living.
Stalin took this a bit farther, and his practice is important because it was a combination of his interpretation of Marxist theory and his control of state power through the Bolshevik Party that caused his actions to become known as Orthodox Marxism.
Stalin was denied the privilege of theorizing the first socialist revolutionary government and forced to carry it forward under relentless attack.(372) However, Stalin turned to Marxist classics and found a theoretical basis for most of his decisions, either from expediency or an earnest exploration.
For Stalin, the crux of socialism was clear: abundance gained through national economic development which would create the conditions for democracy and equality--later.(373) Stalin was well aware that the Bolshevik party came to power quickly, through the actions of a relative minority, and on the promises of land, bread and piece. The party lacked a mass base.(374) The population was weary of war--and civil war. The NEP (New Economic Policy), set in place by Lenin as a retreat to capitalism, was full blown. Revolution in Germany had failed. Economic sanctions adopted by the major capitalist nations, drawn on the heels of failed military invasions, were having an effect(375) Stalin saw his role as initiating the "revolution from above", a concept alien to Marx and Lenin.(376)
Stalin's key motivation was to create abundance, "an economy of plenty", through industrialization and collectivization. Stalin pointed to "Russia's great assets, vast spaces and riches in raw materials" as the material base of his concept that the heart of socialism is affluence.(377) To gain abundance, Stalin continued the restoration of important appearances of capitalist relations begun under the NEP. For example, Stalin, "To force development, the most important..aspect of social policy was to fight against equalitarian trends. He insisted on the need for a highly differentiated scale of material rewards", in the work force, in the state apparatus, and in the party. Highly "paid and privileged managerial groups came to be the props of (the) regime".(378) Stalin made sure that people in leadership positions were rewarded with both decision-making and material incentives.(379)
Departing from the internationalism which underlines Marx's thinking ("Workers of the world unite") Stalin theorized the concept of Socialism in One Country, built initially on a mix of Russian nationalism and Soviet revolutionary solidarity, but rather quickly shifting emphasis to the former. This position meant, finally, that the revolution was not primarily for export, but to build an industrial base, to foster national economic development on a field of inequality, within the Soviet boundaries.(380) In the name of national economic development toward socialism, Taylorism, time and motion studies to enhance production, Stahknovism, more or less voluntary overtime coupled with piece-work, became the orders of the day.(381)
Interestingly, as part of the industrialization and development plan, in the early 1930s, Stalin adopted Lenin's term of "cultural revolution" (Lenin's thought was that an intensive cultural campaign could lead to greater equality) and "drove tens of millions of illiterate people to school and made them learn to read and write".(382) By 1934, the number of illiterate people in the Soviet Union "dropped to a mere 10 per cent".(383) However, as we have seen, literacy is a two-edged sword. Stalin demolished the progressive classrooms of the post-revolutionary period which were designed to be exploratory, constructed on a triad of student-teacher-community interests, abilities and needs, and replaced them with schools in which rote learning and response-chanting was routine.(384) Stalin's view was that national economic development did not necessarily stand ABOVE critical thinking; it WAS critical thinking. He had no particular desire to create people "of letters" nor people, "burdened by social democratic habits". He preferred a person, "feared as well as respected".(385)
Hence, class consciousness was equated with a conscious decision to relinquish equality to build abundance through capitalist social and economic relations.
Within this cultural revolution, Stalin made two theoretical contributions of interest here. First, he wiped the law of the negation of the negation out of Soviet texts. Second, he posed the argument that languages are rooted in nations, not social classes, suggesting that culture itself is rooted in national history rather than, or above, social class.(386) Here then, we see philosophy sacrificed for a political expediency, which I describe below, coupled with the sense that class, after all, may not be the denominator of the human experience.
Industrialization for national economic development "blended into state building".(387) Stalin took positions on the Soviet state which, in appearance, were somewhat different from his predecessors in Marxist theory. In essence they were largely the same. On his rise to power, Stalin initially, argued that class struggle continues, and in fact sharpens, under socialism. Hence a powerful coercive state was mandatory. In 1936, Stalin concluded that socialism was so established that there was no class struggle in the Soviet Union, that the country had reached a harmonious point of being a state of all the people, but a strong state apparatus was necessary because of external threats. This was about the time that the negation of the negation, which could be easily seen as the withering away of the state, disappeared from the Soviet lexicon.(388)
To lead the socialist state in development, Stalin reified himself. He began by mummifying Lenin, embalming the revolutionary figure against Lenin's--and his wife's--wishes. Stalin then recreated himself in the public mind as a human "beyond error". The resulting deification became known as the Cult of Personality, a paradoxical term, used by people who often argue Stalin had no personality and that the cult was really a mass movement, that might muddle the point. Through his own efforts and the full participation of the Bolshevik Party, Stalin was iconicized. Stalin rewrote history, and recreated his role in the Russian Revolution, to promote the marginally-Leninist idea that Great Men do indeed fashion all of social change, and that among Great Men, he stood high, indeed so high that only the deceased, Lenin and Marx, came close.(389)
To maintain the industrial progress toward abundance fostered by the state, Stalin, like Lenin, was willing to employ terror: death sentences of perceived enemies of the state, party expulsions, forced collectivization and labor, prison camps, whatever stick it took to press toward the affluence that was held like a carrot in front of Soviet citizens.(390)
The relationship of the Soviet party and the state, the Russian government, was presaged in Lenin's practice, that is, he saw the state as something of a front group for the party.(391) Stalin drove the concept home. The party overtook the state in its entirety, the later becoming wholly subservient to the former.(392)
And the party, itself rife with material divisions and careerism among its members, tossed adrift the sense of democracy in the contradiction of democratic centralism, and became wholly centralized around Stalin.(393)
The Communist International, the body of the world's communist parties originally designed to promote socialist revolutions, was demoted to a position subservient to the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, partially because that party had the resources of state power (from delivering "Moscow Gold" to issuing false passports) and partially because the Soviets enjoyed the respect due the only party to have successfully make a revolution. Over time, the Comintern grew to represent the most crude forms of Soviet nationalism, in my mind Soviet imperialism, and actually worked to prevent, not foment, socialist revolutions.(394) Socialism in one country came to virtually mean socialism in only one country. In practice, this meant, for example, quieting anti-nazi activity during the Hitler-Stalin pact period, failing to carry forward fully the republican cause in the Spanish Civil War, and urging, often, alliances with bourgeois organizations, like the Kuomintang, for the sole purpose of promoting Soviet designs.(395)
The Chinese Communist Party made its own path by praising Stalin, and ignoring his directives; "waving the red flag and keeping our hands on the pole".(396) The Chinese, from the outset, passed along a very different route. Their revolution took more than twenty years. Their party, over time, developed a mass base which existed when they seized state power. However, the chief cadre of the Chinese Red Army were peasants, not industrial workers, a factor which marginally influenced their fate.(397) I shall examine the Chinese contribution to Marxist theory in greater detail below. However, it must be emphasized that the Chinese revolution carried egalitarian elements which attacked the belief that abundance, not equality, was the basis of socialism. Nevertheless, national economic development was nearly always the propellant of the state's designs.(398)
The Chinese socialist state, drawing on the Soviet experience, duplicated most of the Soviet's practice, but for a time, perhaps a longer time, the control of the state was a matter of serious contention, especially during the Cultural Revolution.(399) The Chinese attacked the Cult of Personality that grew around Stalin, but promoted a similar cult around Mao. Chinese use of post-revolutionary terror appears to have been far more limited, restrained.(400)
Education in Communist China followed a complex path. The Chinese Red Army was run on an egalitarian basis, people chose the officers, made collective decisions on strategy, and used the military as a school and teaching force to build literacy campaigns. At work here is an intricate mix of literacy for production and literacy for liberation which can be marked off at differing stages in the history of the revolution.(401)
However, like the U.S.S.R., the Chinese party eventually abandoned any pretext of equality, declared that "to get rich is glorious" and retreated to the view that abundance is the sole measure of socialist development.(402)
Taylor says Freire is an "enigma", eclectic.(403) Here I seek to work through Freire's remarkably eclectic thinking in detail, on pivotal issues, showing what Freire adopts from Christianity, Hegel and, finally, Marx. My argument here is rooted in the idea that Freire does embody contradictions, that he is a unity of opposites and represents the struggle of idealism and materialism, dialectics and one-sidedness, just as I think we all do. I will try to demonstrate that which is primary in Freire, while at the same time I will note that which is secondary. I will conclude, for the most part, that Freire is a Christian-Hegelian. However, I will also contend, that within this framework, under it, is a remarkably orthodox sense of
Marxism.(404) As in any contradiction, what is embraced in Freire is not a simple binary, but an interpenetrating series of complex relations, each with primary aspects. I hope to demonstrate a mixture of orthodox Marxism and Christian-Hegelianism, the latter predominant, but both born of the same mother. I will approach this last phrase concretely and theoretically when I address Grenada, and then the relationship of flawed materialist analyses and limited dialects. Here, I will point out the similar results that come from the apparently conflicting views--Christian-Hegelianism and Marxism's orthodoxy.(405)
At the outset, I contend that Freire believes that history is, above all, "a process of human events" and, only secondarily, a question of class struggle. Freire is well aware of the difference, that one position contradicts the other, not as an elementary binary, but his idealism dominates materialism in a manner abstracted from the world. The implications of Freire's comment here, as he is aware, reach into all analysis. If history is indeed a process of human events, then we are all--as humans--in this boat together, a remarkable Christian-Hegelian view, idealist, which denies the material conflict of interests between people through the past and into all of the foreseeable future. This is not to say that Freire rejects the concept of class struggle. He does not, though he does, in various texts, emphasize its role in different ways. For example, in Pedagogy in Process, he points to the centrality of class as an analytical tool, while in Pedagogy of Hope he says it is merely one of many tools.(406) In his discussion on the revolution in Guinea-Bissau, Freire indicates that a class analysis is important to understand change, but he places this concept as an analytical device under a humanist sky.(407) Freire approaches the issue of class in the same way Hegel addresses the material world, as a substratum of the mind. Since there is no external measure, it is impossible to determine just what lynch-pin might actually describe history. This is also how it is possible for Freire to want revolution, but on very eclectic terms. He supports orthodox revolutionary parties, like the Cubans, but now only in the abstract, while at the same time he is in a leadership role in the Workers Party of Brazil, whose federationist policies, deliberately chosen, stand at odds with the Cuban model. Freire can at once praise Lenin, and theoretically reject the dictatorship of the proletariat, the benchmark of Leninism. Instead, Freire declares that the purpose of revolution is "humanism"(408) and suggests that revolution will actually liberate the oppressors, remarkably, through their mutual recognition.(409) This rather disavows Mao's famous dictum, "A revolution is not a dinner party".(410)
Freire, rather than emphasizing organization, discipline, tactics, elevates ideology and human will, and distances the role of ideology and willpower from the material world. He stresses the will of the people, but leaves that will unlinked with their substantive being. For example, in discussing the war in Vietnam, Freire says, "North American technology yielded to the will to be on the part of the Vietnamese".(411) Will certainly played an important role in Vietnam, as did the line of the National Liberation Front and its self-sacrificing leadership personified by Ho Chi Minh and Vo Ngyuen Giap. All of this was both made possible by, and simultaneously restricted by, Chinese and Soviet material support. Moreover, the will of the Vietnamese people may have played a significant role in the defeat of the U.S., French, and Japanese invading forces, but it was not enough to defeat the inequality built into the line of the National Liberation Front that ultimately led to the open restoration of capitalism and grotesque disparities in Vietnam today.(412) Again, the Hegelian Freire is able to separate materiality from ideology, and to give the latter the gaze of God. This makes it possible to claim that counter-revolution comes from a lack of dialogue, and at the same time, call Fidel Castro an "eminently dialogical leader".(413)
Working from the humanist-Hegelian framework, Freire is then able to make the next idealist twist, that is, to see culture standing above production. He sees culture as "a basic, central theme", above production and indeed sees the fruits of labor being culture, "Culture is the result of man's labor".(414) Culture is rooted in national consciousness (as Freire describes in his initially unpublished "Letter to Guinea-Bissau", he contends language, a key cultural indicator, is national in content).(415) Hence, what is the appropriate subject of examination is not commodity production nor surplus value, but language. Again, this is not to say Freire does not examine work. He does. In his early Education for Critical Consciousness, he notes the importance of labor.(416) But he does so as a secondary concern, over which stands the idealist construction of culture--the Hegelian mover of history..
Hence, as the key signifier of culture, that which gives it representation, language is to Freire what labor is to Marx. Rather than investigate property relations, Freire suggest we conduct a "cultural inquiry". (417) Language, communication, dialogue, put together the world, "...only through communication can human life hold meaning".(418) This, of course, signals back to "In the Beginning was the Word" (Genesis 1) and places dialogue in the determinant position in the world and in social change. Again, this is not to say that Freire denies practice a role. To the contrary, he does point to practice and the world as a point of praxis, but only in the sense that it assists in the construction of the word. Again, I have demonstrated that Freire sees praxis as the SIMULTANEOUS intersection of theory and practice, whereas a materialist base, which is the denominator of dialectical materialism, privileges practice.(419)
It follows that Freire rarely deals with alienation, exploitation, or hegemony. Instead, he enters this realm as an abstraction: "the voice of oppression is dehumanization", not exploitation.(420)
He discusses fear of unemployment as, "spiritual weariness", "historical anesthesia".(421) What overcomes this angst is voice, not struggle for control of the work place or the end of commodity production. Freire believes that what he perceives as silence, illiteracy, is a signal of submission.(422) So, here Freire first puts together the dialectic of powerlessness and resistance and poses them in the binary terms that can only derive from the brittle view of idealism; that is, the inability to control your life is first a construct of your mind, secondly a function of a social system. Where there is power, it is the power of language, above all, and where there is no voice there is no resistance. We have seen this latter at work in Freire's limited analysis of racism--and his sense of Brazilian history..
It follows from this that Freire sees imperialism as, primarily, a "cultural invasion" and secondarily as an edifice of relations which engage a comprador bourgeoisie to become intermediary oppressors, which establish particular property relations from which flow ideological artifices, and which require first, economic blood, then intellectual infusions.(423) The same warning applies here: Freire does not ignore imperialism, he inverts it, and because his understanding of imperialism is inverted, it cannot be dialectically rich. Freire winds up attacking appearances of culture, language and literacy, rather than using language and literacy to attack imperialism.
Since all of history is the history of "human events' and not class struggle, it follows that the state, government, is more mediated terrain than weapon of class rule. This explains Freire's belief that the Brazilian state can be reformed, in part through the accession of elected officials like himself, rather than smashed. He believes that an "authentically democratic approach to management" of the school systems of Sao Paulo is possible, in what I have noted is a city deeply stratified by economic and racial division.(424) He believes, remarkably, that it is possible in Sao Paulo to build a democratic school system, with special curricular reforms that transcend the rich and poor, "where children rich or poor are able to learn, to create, to take risks, to ask questions, to grow".(425) Thus, Freire again stands the world on its head. It is possible to establish democracy in the most gross absence of equality, through the good offices of leaders with the right ideas in mind. This is not to say that Freire believe that he faces a just universe, or a fair school system. He does not. Interestingly, he does see as the key thing wrong with the schools as bad buildings. Freire recognizes social injustice--and believes he can change it with his mind.(426)
If the state is an open field, even if there is a revolution and a new state established, flaws in the new state can be corrected by increasing "critical consciousness" and intensified dialogue between the people and the leadership. this is what Freire sees as permanent cultural revolution.(427)
This offers the spectrum of the binaries which idealism creates, the inability to see the unity and struggle in a contradiction rising from the material world. At once, Freire believes the state can be mediated and he supports, as I have shown, violent revolutions; and he sees each aspect of the state as potentially remediated through discussion. Therefore, it is not re-established inequality in reward systems and, hence, decision-making; rather what is a work polluting the revolution is discussion and ideology. As is often the case, In this case, Freire has actually inverted this relationship, but within his inversion there are extraordinarily important insights. Freire, who does believe in revolutionary parties, has contributed considerably to the understanding of isolation of revolutionary leaders.(428) In Pedagogy of the Oppressed he struggles to analyze what it is that pulls what he calls "sectarians" aware from their base in the mass of people. But the Hegelian framework betrays Freire and he is only able to locate this separation in ideas and dialogue, and he is never able to link the possibility of equality in decision-making and consciousness with equality in the material world.(429) Instead, Freire calls for a "lucid vanguard" and takes on a mystical approach to charismatic leaders, like Cabral and Bishop, who are "translator(s) of peoples' dreams, not creators of the dreams".(430)
This inability to address the complex, but first material, relationship of leaders and the mass of people comes through in Freire's approach to teaching. He sees students and teachers as united, not through common material interest, but through dialogue, in which the teacher knows more. There is a strain of missionaryism, we do for you, in this which is impossible not to notice. He sees the link as "true generosity".(431) Freire often talks about the need for educators to "commit class suicide", to participate in an "Easter experience", rather than develop solidarity out of the material fact that they have a unity of interests with the people they teach.(432) The other side of this is a focus on the peasantry and a denigrating approach toward what they understand. Freire blames exploitation, for the most part, on internalized "magical thinking".(433) Because Freire's idealism--the belief that history is the progress of ideas-- blinds him to the history of resistance, which is not necessarily spelled out within his purview of language systems, he is able to see only submissiveness in the peasantry--a false history--and then conclude that the responsibility for submissiveness must be in the peasants' minds.
The separation of ideas and materiality, and the subsequent domination of the former above the latter, make it possible to declare that race, sex/gender, nationality and even class could be, at any given moment, the wedge to understand history; and, on the other hand, to be wholly unable to deconstruct the social basis of racism and sexism. I have shown Freire's ahistorical stand on racism above. Other than responding to feminist attacks on the male dominance in his language, Freire addresses sexism in a serious way, only once. He does so when he veers away from a discussion on racism and begins to describe how sexism is constructed, and taken apart, by women asserting their own voices and language. He sees sexism, like racism as a cultural artifact. While expressing solidarity with both women and black people, and saying that he has an interest in opposing racism and sexism, he insists that racism and sexism can stand apart from, and be analyzed and fought, in ways apart from class struggle.(434) In this sense, Freire is willing to elevate difference, race/sex/gender, over likeness, class; because he is prepared to part ideology from its material base.
This also explains why Freire is prepared to support orthodox Marxist political parties like New Jewel in Grenada or the Nicaraguan Sandanistas which, for example, in turn, support the comprador bourgeoisie, rather than press forward toward equality. This means working people, because of their standing as part of a colonial nation, are urged to ally with those who own, still, the means of production in their country--and whose privileges and decision-making powers are beyond question.(435) Freire is willing to equate their national likeness over what I argue is the fundamental relationship of class difference.(436)
This sense of unity superceding struggle, when life is abstracted from living, then makes it possible for Freire to help oversee a political party in Brazil which believes it is a federation of parties, Maoist to Trotskyite to Stlinist, which can be held together through an abstract sense of unity through practice. The working through of this dialectic, even if we remain within the unhistoricized abstraction, means that either this party will represent a melange of the lowest common denominators of the combined parties, or it will be immobilized. Within this party, Freire is able to perceive the dominance of democracy above, abstracted from centralism; pluralism is privileged over real unity which can only be significant if it is engaged through common goals and consistent practice.
The driving unity which centers Freire's understanding of political action is, at base, is the language which makes sense of the struggle for national economic development. But the abstracted unity which he proposes, national unity absent equality, tempts replacement of one kind of oppression with another.
What prevents counter revolution for Freire is the understanding that "in seizing power, one must transform it. This recreation and reinvention of power by necessity passes through the reinvention of the productive act. And the reinvention of the productive act is legitimatized in terms of the people's wishes, dreams and decisions..."(437) Freire then points to the "reinvention of participation relative to what to produce...and for whom." This then leads back to Freire's goal, "the reinvention of language".(438) Hence, at the outset, words subsume the revolutionary project. Next, Freire indicates he is quite willing to insist on production now in exchange for equality later.(439) Freire uncritically takes up the educational exercise notebooks used in Guinea-Bissau and demonstrates step by step the line of most orthodox Marxism: first we must, "produce more...(join collectively in) national reconstruction which demands of us unity, discipline, work, vigilance..."(440)
Then, "the struggle for production requires total commitment to the collective interest."(441)
This standard paradigm of the primacy of productive forces is reiterated in Pedagogy in Process. Here, we have the caveat, under "socialism production is governed by the well being of the total society".(442) There must be technical training but that training should be critically conscious of "how society works". (443)That the society works, under the line of the party, by increasing production, simultaneously with inequality, for the purpose of national development, under the leadership of the party and the national bourgeoisie, is not analyzed. The new education system is to be subordinate to the socialist production goals.(444) Literacy campaigns are set up to promote national economic development.(445) And the battle for production is blanketed by "humanization".(446) Finally, "The world is reborn in the intimacy of consciousness".(447)
This belief that consciousness itself is a challenge to dominance and is what prevents the undermining of revolutions is likely to have a causal relationship with Taylor's claims that there is no evidence of social struggles emanating from Freire's work.(448) One of the key absences in Freire's work, paradoxically so often paralleling the work of the organizer Saul Alinsky, is any plan that shows education workers just how they might carry out social change, how they might fight racism or sexism, or elitism.(449)
On the other hand, the insights within Freire's work, especially his
critique of elitist revolutionary leadership and his exploration of the
prominent role of ideology is of considerable value. As a Christian-Hegelian
who appropriates parts of Marx, Freire stresses the role of ideology, which,
I have indicated, is important in reaching into the possibilities of encasing
equality as part of the material forces in the world. However, Freire is
not able to fully put into play the role of ideology, that is, he sees
ideology standing, finally, above and apart from reality. Hence, his ideological
structures are not well rooted in history or of a careful study of concrete
conditions. Rather, he is inclined to study ideology as itself, ie., culture.
In regard to his analysis of leadership, I have tried to demonstrate how
Freire at once romanticizes leaders like Cabral or Mao, how he has a missionary
sense of leadership, yet at the same time gives great weight to the deep
ties leaders should have among the people. Again, the insights Freire has
into these issues must be seen as major contributions to the movement for
social justice. And these two issues will lie at the base of the next discussion,
which also struggles with the contradiction between the theory of productive
forces and equality. In addition, I question what makes it possible for
Freire to hold within him the apparently conflicting positions I have detailed
above. I will try to work through the interpenetration of conceptualization,
matter and motion.
Here I explore what I believe is central to what went wrong with orthodox Marxism and demonstrate how that influences Freire. From the error outlined below, in a dialectical relationship, I suggest flows other errors: subservience to nationalism, failure to understand the nature of the capitalist state as weapon of class conflict, cults of personality, over-emphasis on the understanding of truth as only emanating from the party center, privilege tolerated, even promoted, within a political party ostensibly meant for social justice, and literacy programs designed as liberatory which turn into their own opposite.
The thesis is that the Theory of Productive Forces, which in orthodox circles is seen as the explanation for and inspiration of all social change, is not a theory appropriately rooted in dialectical materialism, but is mechanically materialist. My argument is that social change in an age of capitalism is equally driven by human consciousness (and mass action), which itself is a material force, and that purposeful consciousness, which I believe is the mass willingness to enforce equality as the chief goal of social change can, indeed must, be the wedge into a democratic egalitarian society.
I also suggest that if the Theory of Productive Forces is an unbalanced approach to social change, then it is possible to restore the potential of ideology and human agency as a material force in history and to reach beyond the boundaries established by the orthodoxy, to break through the stages of capitalist inequalities required by stage theory.(450) Equality and democracy (as related to the mode and means of production, that is, democratic egalitarianism in decision-making, production, and in distribution) are attainable without the stages of post-revolutionary inequality which only the Theory of Productive Forces would seem to require.
I contend that there is a materialist sense within this framework in that abundance created through inequality will never lead to equality, and further, that the struggle for equality will likely be sufficiently destructive to create the necessity of sharing scarcity. Therefore, it is not utopian idealism to urge equality and democracy, but simply a reasonable conclusion based on historical experience.(451)
My case is made in this manner: I will demonstrate some of the original sources of the Theory of Productive Forces, relying first on Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin.(452) I will then attempt to demonstrate that the statements of at least the initial three of these communists are somewhat contradictory. However, I will seek to indicate that the key interpreters of this theory in the West do indeed make a case based on important trends--but not the only trends--within the original Marx and the results of historical practice.
I argue that Marx, like Freire, must not be iconicized, that dialectical and historical materialism must not be entombed but used as a guide to life and practice. While I believe there is evidence in all of Marx and Engels to prove that they themselves insisted on the dialectical relationship of matter and motion, of the material world and consciousness, it is of but secondary concern to the importance of learning from history in a dialectical and materialist way. Practice is the test of Marxism. Theory can only lead to the appearance of internal consistency. We have a historical base on which to build.
I will note briefly what has happened with regimes which relied, in part, on the Theory of Productive forces to wrench their way into advanced socialism, that is, regimes which sought to attain equality through the creation of abundance from the capitalist development of industry. However, I will show, also, that within these regimes, ranging from the French Revolution to the Chinese Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, were strands of the idea that equality is simultaneously a material and ideological force, indeed, there were outright attacks on the theory of productive forces coming from the Chinese left. Hence, in the more dialectical sense, in the analysis of historical practice, we can glimpse clues of what might guide the future, even if those clues never became the predominant aspects of what went before.
I will finally speculate on the possibilities for a revolutionary project which focuses its goal on the immediate attainment of equality, not in a crude sense, but in the classical sense of "from each according to their ability to each according to their need". Marx fails to offer a splendid definition of precisely what this means, That is, what amounts to a need and whose ability shall be stretched, how, to meet it? However, Marx also never proposes the analysis of equality as an abstraction, as this equals that. In his analysis of equality before the law, he attacks the bourgeois nature of what Anatol France described as the "great balance of justice of the law which makes it equally illegal for a rich man and a poor man to sleep under a bridge".(453) I do not suggest that everyone can live on the seashore or at the top of the mountain. I do believe that working people have historically found ways to make sensible decisions about need and sharing. The Chinese People's Liberation Army linked troops with officers, and the military with the people, through the tie of material and ideological equality. This army was able, through dialogue interestingly enough, to debate the primacy of equality sometimes contradicted by need in times of scarcity, and to find unity through collective sacrifice.(454) The point, however, is that equality has been consistently and deliberately abandoned by socialism when it came into contradiction with the perception of the need for national economic development--and that this is a fatal mistake.
My more particular goal is to demonstrate that the shipwreck of socialist regimes is significantly tied to the reintroduction of material and decision-making inequality, even after the most egalitarian of revolutions--and the rationale for this inequality lies in part in the Theory of Productive Forces.
I believe that the vision which has guided socialist practice, in my view a form of technological determinism, was sufficiently anti-egalitarian to undermine related socialist and reformist projects, Paulo Freire's literacy projects for example, and to set the stage for "commandist" educational practices which were easily turned into their own opposites. This examination will lay a basis for scrutinizing Freire elsewhere.(455)
I believe I will highlight one concept initiated in the struggles of the Chinese revolution and make one interpretive contribution which, to my knowledge, may not have been broached in the literature: first, that the Theory of Productive Forces is likely to lead to the reintroduction of capitalism and, second, my more modest point that sectarianism and opportunism are twins, both born of misreading the unity and struggle within the material world, each privileging one at the expense of the other. While traditional Marxist criticism has focused on one or the other aspects of these twins, that criticism has not grasped the importance of seeing their simultaneous unity and hence has left a significant gate unguarded, that is, to investigate opportunism--which may indeed the key problem at any given moment--but to ignore the likelihood of aspects of the counterpart, is to miss a part of the equation that may become decisive. I will try to provide limited but concrete historical examples which will make sense of this assertion.(456)
Marxism at base is fairly easily understood by most workers. It doesn't take too long to grasp that the central problem raised by Marx is the contradiction between the social nature of production and the individual ownership of what is produced. They own, you work. They gain, you lose.(457)
From that things grow a bit more complex; the struggle of social classes, the alienation of work from an integrated life, the need for a state, a government, as a weapon of those in power, and ideological weapons like racism and sexism to divide and enslave those who do the work but never attain material well-being or the ability to control their working lives and decisions. It is at this point that, in my experience, level of agreement about the reliability of Marxism begins to break up. But it is not complexity that seems to disengage people; it's either false consciousness or disagreement.
However, in this apparently simple outline of contradiction and practice is a complexity of tensions within Marxism. The fundamental contradiction is broken into a series of subsequent contradictions, often in a fashion that fails to recognize their interpenetration. For example, some critics seem unable to link political economy with the importance of class struggle. In the abstract, this is a breakdown of dialectics, a view flattened within the one dimensional thesis-antithesis-synthesis debasing of dialects which cannot seem to grasp history as a multi-dimensional process rather than a wall chart.(458)
I quote at some length below to demonstrate the early tensions between being and consciousness:
"In the social production of their life, men enter into definite relations that are indispensable and independent of their will, relations of production which correspond to a definite stage of development of their early productive forces. The sum total of these relations of production constitutes the economic structure of society, the real foundation, on which rises the legal and political superstructure and to which correspond definite forms of social consciousness. The mode of production of material life conditions the social, political and intellectual life process in general. It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being, but on the contrary, their social being that determines their consciousness. At a certain stage of their development, the material productive forces of society come into conflict with the existing relations of production or--what is but a legal expression of the same thing--with the property relations within which they have been at work hitherto. From forms of development of the productive forces these relations turn into fetters. Then begins an epoch of social revolution. With the change of the economic foundation the entire immense superstructure is transformed. In considering such transformations a distinction should always be made between the material transformation of the economic conditions of production, which can be determined with the precision of natural science, and the legal, political, religious, aesthetic, or philosophic--in short, ideological forms in which men become conscious of this conflict and fight it out. Just as our opinion of an individual is not based on what he thinks of himself, so we cannot judge of such a period of transformation by its own consciousness; on the contrary, this consciousness must be explained rather from the contradictions of material life, from the existing conflict between the social productive forces and the relations of production. No social order ever perishes before all the productive forces for which there is room in it have developed; and new, higher relations of production never appear before the material conditions of their existence have matured in the womb of the old society itself. Therefore, mankind always sets itself only such tasks as it can solve; since, looking at the matter more closely, it will always be found that the task itself arises only when the material conditions for its solution already exist or are at least in the process of formation." (459)
In this brief and complex paragraph are three of Marx's key thoughts, that progress is necessarily written into the conquest of nature through human production and development, that the dialectics of social life contain the format to explain progress, and that people are, or can be, sufficiently socially aware and morally inclined, good, within the workings of the dialectic to be streaming toward a better world. However, in the same paragraph are key contradictions unresolved, especially the approach to the role of consciousness in social change. Marx wrote in a period when it was important to underline materialism and, as I will describe, recognized that in his struggle against idealism, he occasionally neglected to fully explore the dialectical importance of conscious action. Still, the nod toward consciousness is there.
Again, in the quotation below, the tension of the material world and consciousness:
"...there develops the division of labor, which was originally nothing but the division of labor in the sexual act, then that division of labor which develops spontaneously...by virtue of natural predisposition (e.g. physical strength), needs, accidents, etc. Division of labor only truly becomes such from the moment when a division of material and mental labor appears. From this moment onward consciousness CAN really flatter itself that it is something other consciousness of existing practice, that it really represents something without representing something real; from now on, consciousness is in a position to emancipate itself from the world and to proceed to the formation of 'pure' theory, theology, philosophy, physics, etc. But even if this theory, theology, philosophy, ethics, etc.,comes into contradiction with the existing relations, this can only occur because the existing social relations have come into contradiction with existing forces of production..."(460)
On the other hand, consider these two clear notes on the importance of ideology and consciousness:
"It is clear that the arm of criticism cannot replace the criticism of arms. Material force can only be overthrown by material force, but theory itself becomes a material force when it has seized the masses." (461)
"Marx and I are ourselves partly to blame for the fact that the younger people sometimes lay more stress on the economic side than is due to it. We had to emphasize the main principle vis-a-vis our adversaries, who denied it, and we had not always the time, the place or the opportunity to allow the other elements involved in the interaction to come into their rights." (462)
Volume I of Capital describes the dispossession of the serfs, by both the productive forces and by the mercantilists. Marx shows how the industrial revolution was made possible, not merely by steam engines, but by bringing the working class together in factories, a process which itself led to technological change. Skilled crafts-people are replaced, first, by other trades people who are brought together in one spot. Then this group is replaced by mass machinery and technology. So, in his favorite volume, Marx's emphasis was not determinist, but stressed the importance of the struggles of people who are born into competing classes.(463)
"The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles." (not the "history of the developing productive forces"--mine).(464)
Marx was no mechanical materialist, as evidenced further by his willingness to explore the possibilities of skipping stages toward establishing socialism--in Russia for example. (465)
For our purposes, it is not necessary to enter the debate of an old, economist Marx versus a young humanist Marx, or the purported split in views between a heavy-handed Engels and a more Hegelian Marx. Suffice it to say that I believe there was one Marx, that his views are consistent and move in a progression of increasing sophistication. There was no split between Marx and Engels who never disagreed publicly to my knowledge, with Engels always genteelly nodding to the primacy of Marx. The use of history, the insight behind materialism which stresses the concrete analysis of concrete conditions, helps explains Marxist emphasis on materialism.
The concern, to this point, is to indicate that there is a tension in dialectical materialism, within the very world view as well as in the writings of its founders. This tension is, I think, is best understood as a dialectical position which recognizes the interpenetration of conscious, ideological activity in the interpretation of reality and the construction of communist practice, and the base of the material world which supplies the (ever-changing) conditions for that relationship. But it is power that settles this matter in life.(466)
Let us turn to Lenin. Tucker notes the philosophical development of Lenin's view, from a more mechanical view of ideas as simply a reflection of the material world in "Materialism and Empiro-Criticism" to a more sophisticated vision which would give greater weight to the unity and struggle of matter and motion in "On the Question of Dialectics".(467) The sense that ideas are plainly a mirror response to the external world becomes a more problematical understanding that the material world is at the base, but that ideas recreate materiality in new ways, which themselves become material.
However, most of Lenin's practice (as well as his theoretical work which is often hard to distinguish from his practice itself) falls hard on the side of the Theory of Productive Forces as the lynch-pin of history, except when it stood in the way of his leading the revolution. A fairly good case was made by most of the Bolshevik party that the time was not ripe for revolution in 1917, yet Lenin, ever the revolutionary above all else, argued successfully to push ahead.
Even so, but four years later The New Economic Policy, an admitted retreat, was couched in terms related to the necessity of the development of an industrial base through capitalist production relations in order to create the material abundance necessary for equality--some day. I note that in many of the most egalitarian of revolutions, from the Bolsheviks to the Chinese--and the Cubans--while it was sufficient to MAKE a revolution with mass armies run on increasingly democratic and materially equal terms (with admitted shifts depending on the historical moment but taking the long view); it was seen as impossible to finalize the revolution on those pillars. Instead the Theory of Productive Forces became the underpinning for inequality. It became possible to for socialist regimes to sequester people, products, and history; a separation that cracks apart the complex interpenetration that Marx recognized. The Chinese Revolution, and the Cultural revolution, stretched the contradiction between the often contradictory goals of abundance and equality to the breaking point. While the Cultural Revolution attacked the elevation of expertise over politics, leaders of the Chinese Communist Party wrote documents attacking egalitarianism as an affront to the struggle for abundance through production.(468)
Which leads nicely to Stalin.
"...the history of development of society is above all the history of development of production, the history of the modes of production which succeed each other in the course of centuries, the history of the development of the productive forces and people's relations of production." (See my comment in regard to the opening of the Communist Manifesto above).
"Hence the clue to the study of the laws of history of society must not be sought in men's minds, in the views and ideas of society, but in the mode of production practiced by society in any given historical period; it must be sought in the economic life of society." (469)
However, even in Stalin there is a tip of the cap:
Stalin quotes Marx, "Theory becomes a productive force as soon as it has gripped the masses." (470)
But the test of dialectical materialism, even in Stalin, is practice:
"The basis of the relations of production under the Socialist system, which so far has been only established in the U.S.S.R., is the social ownership of the means of production. Here there are no longer exploited and exploiters." (471)
The absence of the negation of the negation in Stalin's dialectics might be important. On the one hand, in the unity of production relations and forces, how are new ideas to develop? On the other hand, if there is a unity of productive forces and human interests, how will technology develop? But more to the issue: this is apparently a stage at which technology alone can make the big drive toward equality. (472)
I offer this interlude to work through one piece of the complexity that stands behind how it is that the Theory of Productive Forces has gained such ascendancy, and to raise issues confronting revolutionary and reformist movements, and Paulo Freire, in a new way.
The interpretation of history and political theory is not neutral activity. It is always, like education and literacy, partisan work. It follows that material interests are involved in decisions about what events will be noticed and how they will be interpreted, as well as which theories will become official policy or conceptual renegades finding surcease in underground movements. (473)
Moreover, while ruling elites rely heavily on racism, sex/gender, nationalism and class differences to divide people, history decisively demonstrates that another way to destroy movements is to split leaders from the masses of people--an understanding that Freire has theorized in profound ways.(474) This can be done not only by systems of rewards, but through the inculcation of history and ideologies which themselves alienate masses of people from decision-making power or from the control of the benefits of their work. Isolated revolutionary leaders--who live--quickly turn into demagogues. The causes for their isolation are life and death questions, not only to them, but to masses of people who risk their lives for a better world.
I believe opportunism and sectarianism, practices rising from and/or methods of interpreting errors in the reading of reality, lie at the base of much of the thinking which buttresses the Theory of Productive Forces. In other words, the historical interpretation of the primacy of materialism over dialectics, claims of economic determinism in Marx, are influenced by factors like the special interests and location of the interpreter. Surely some of this comes from forthright errors, some comes from a more colored perspective.
While Marx and Engels, and to some extent Lenin, fought opportunism and sectarianism in theory and practice; it remains that none of these three held sufficient power to really be put to the test of their ideas. Stalin did--and I believe his actions, simultaneously sectarian and opportunist, reflect his reasonable interpretation of Marxist theory. While his honesty may, in retrospect, be attenuated by the degree of his internal party privileges, it remains that his actions can easily be explained by significant theoretical tendencies within the Marxism-Leninism of his time.(475)
But I can neither bury nor praise Stalin. Rather, I do point out that an analysis of what went wrong in communist practice must go well beyond Great Man approaches and address specific historical circumstances and trace the theoretical developments within those circumstances. This rebuttal to undialectical attacks on what became known as Stalinism is not possible here.(476)
Instead, this thought: Opportunism and sectarianism are twins. One appears, if somewhat cloaked, with the other. They are two faces of opposition to communist revolution rooted at once in fear of the people and mass struggle, and in support of privilege, bureaucracy and capitalist relations.
Lenin put it clearly: "Opportunism and social chauvinism have the same political content, namely, class collaboration, repudiation of the dictatorship of the proletariat, repudiation of revolutionary action, unconditional acceptance of bourgeois legality, confidence in the bourgeoisie and lack of confidence in the proletariat". (477)
Opportunism and sectarianism frequently rise from the middle-class. "...the petit bourgeoisie is being driven into the ranks of the working class--they are losing their economic base--and it should be no surprise that their views which deny the primacy of class struggle--appear again and again..."(478) This should be especially clear with experience with the neo-marxists of today, a point on which we have seen Freire from time to time locates himself. The idea of post-modernism, neo-marxism, the view that all is post-rational as there is no proletariat, no role for material struggle, no reason for a democratically central political party--all would appear to again spell out the cry of the middle class in continuing crisis, correctly, simultaneously with only hope, then, with no hope--for itself. This is a profound example of the unity of opportunism and sectarianism.(479)
From "What is to be Done?", paraphrasing, "---
"The consciousness of the workers cannot be genuine class consciousness unless they learn to apply materialist analysis...opportunism underestimates the working class and overestimates the ruling class". (480)
Sectarianism/opportunism is a misinterpretation of reality, a misdirection in the struggle for the truth. While dialectical materialism understands the contradictory unity of matter and motion, the changing of reality; sectarianism overestimates the primacy of the material world, makes it appear that matter cannot change--or changes in a lock step, mechanical fashion, moved solely by itself; while opportunism argues that matter is changed only through ideas--not concrete struggle.
Sectarianism and opportunism combine to form the fatalistic belief that matter, the world, will inevitably change in ways we desire. Both deny the significance of reflective human agency--the battles of informed people. In a practical sense, sectarianism and opportunism are obstacles to base-building and result in the state of the communist movement: without enough of the people.
Both sectarianism and opportunism deny a political party and the masses the richness of each other's experiences. While Lenin's remarks were decidedly directed against opportunism, the bottom line of either failure, opportunism or sectarianism, is the failure to make a democratic, egalitarian revolution.
For example, in regard to communist parties, democratic centralism, a unity of opposites in struggle, takes place in the context of political reality. While the goal must be a mass party of sophisticated revolutionaries, it remains that political strictures can require a tighter internal operation. While it would appear that an analysis of the contradictory unity of centralism and democracy would be easily derived from a quick reconnaissance of the legal terrain, experience shows that anti-egalitarian practices within a party can lead to interpretations of the surrounding reality that tilt heavily on the side of centralism. Yet, at the same time, that centralism is usually just a mask for external opportunism, i.e., Stalin.
Paulo Freire, as I sought to show in the preceding section, follows this path of opportunism and sectarianism. Above all, he contends consciousness is the goal and base of social change. He splits this belief from practice and, enacting the binary opposition, urges action which demonstrates his ultimate reliance on production to create the requisite abundance for a better world. Because he is not a materialist, because he fails to develop the interrelationship of ideas and matter, he is thus unable to see how they are linked, not in a simple binary but in a relationship that itself is in flux. Thus, missing the materialist button, Freire moves to addressing the form of education and literacy as primary, and leaves the substance to the mechanical materialist belief that mechanical change is a requisite for social change.
With this thought as an additional tool in approaching a richer understanding of the Theory of Productive Forces, I now look at the steps forward which I believe can be traced to the revolution in China, and to their influence on this thesis.
I believe the Chinese Revolution was the most advanced of all successful revolutions to date. The Chinese built on the experience of the French Revolutionaries, the Communards, and the Soviets. I think the attention given to Western Marxists, like those from the Frankfurt school--which focused on the production of marketable non-practice--that attention which denies the importance of finding strengths and weaknesses in the historical practice of the Chinese, is simply ethnocentric and racist. The Chinese Revolution, in the most practicable ways, demonstrates the importance of ideology and consciousness. I count the Chinese contributions as these:
1. A mass party in practice, and the mass line.
2. Theory and practice of people's war and the people's army built almost wholly on a democratic and egalitarian basis.
3. The vision of a party cadre whose "privilege" was sacrifice--the 'serve the people' principle. The position of "red and expert", that is, the primacy of politics.
4. Theoretical sharpening of dialectical materialism and making philosophy available to the masses .
5. The intensification of the belief in the primacy of class struggle as seen through their attacks on revisionism, which seeks to deny class struggle as the motive force, and the Cultural Revolution which, I believe, was a left revolution, aimed at egalitarianism within the modes and means of production,in the tradition of Babeuf. It was wrecked by its own internal mistakes, including its failure to take apart the cult of personality around Mao, as well as by the Red Army--which it failed to convince. (481)
The Chinese, whose long revolution steeled their theory, understood, as did their predecessors in the American and French Revolutions, that people will struggle sharply for a nickel, but they will die for an idea. It was necessary to use the ideology of democracy and equality to get the masses to do battle, even when it may have been clear that the interests of most people would be superceded by the power of the few--again.(482)
However, the Chinese also began to attack the Theory of Productive Forces within the context of their polemics with Kruschev's "Goulash Communism". They drew on earlier Mao:
"True, the productive forces, practice and the economic base generally play the principle and decisive role, whoever denies this is not a materialist. But it must also be admitted that in certain conditions, such aspects as the relations of production, theory and superstructure in turn manifest themselves in the principal and decisive role." (483)
Even Lenin came under scrutiny:
"Lenin says, 'The transition from capitalism to socialism will be more difficult for a country, the more backward it is.' That would seem incorrect today. Actually, the transition is less difficult the more backward a country is, for the poorer they are the more the people want a revolution." (484)
However, once the productive forces are set aside as the sole inspiration, the Chinese take a Bolshevik twist:
"..the first thing is to prepare public opinion, seize state power, and then solve the question of ownership, after which comes the question of greatly developing the productive forces."(485)
In this the Chinese set aside half of the equation, that is, consciousness can overcome backward productive forces in making the revolution; but they leave unsaid the plan to settle "the question of ownership" as they did, by adopting the part of the theory of productive forces that calls for abundance as a necessary requisite for equality--and a stage of capitalism before socialism becomes an issue. This is the gap in the Leninist view:
"He who only recognizes the class struggle is not yet a Marxist...A Marxist is one who extends the acceptance of the class struggle to the acceptance of the dictatorship of the proletariat... On this touchstone it is necessary to test a real understanding and acceptance of Marxism".(486)
The next issue at hand is the nature of the dictatorship of the proletariat---the end that so irreducibly sets the substance of the means. If, for example, it is agreed from the outset that the dictatorship must restore capitalist methods of production, as well as capitalist social relationships, there is now considerable evidence that the purportedly egalitarian goals of the dictatorship, any form of socialism, will be subverted at every step as it is implemented. Not only will the party leadership be quickly split from the masses by the material privileges of the party personnel, not only will the people again be quickly alienated from their work, but the sacrifices of millions of people will be lost in the restoration of capitalism, made in part palatable by a theory reified, beyond critique, in communist thought. (487)
Yet, there is simply no way that institutionalized inequality will lead to equality by the mere march of production alone. What is missing, in part, is the understanding that masses of people have sacrificed their lives in the war for equality and democracy. It is undialectical, a denial of materialism---opportunist and sectarian at the same time--to deny that most of the people can be convinced that at the conclusion of a revolutionary upheaval what is needed is not a retreat to the old ways under new commissars, but equality and democracy, in that order, now.(488)
With all of this as background, I now summarize the detailed analysis of the Theory of Productive Forces as written by the most orthodox of contemporary materialist Marxists, Gerald Cohen. I choose Cohen because he enjoys a solid reputation as an analytical philosopher of systems theory within Marxism.(489)
The basis of the economic determinist view is that, in the endless struggle to survive, people improve their technologies which, in turn, transform their social relationships. One always precedes the other. Thus technology causes social change. To expand; in order to survive, every form of past society, but especially capitalism, requires scientific advance. Hence technologies advance. The technological growth eventually is obstructed by the existing social relations. This in turn, in the release of pressure through a social crisis, leads to the emergence of a new form of society.
Cohen thus describes the society which can give greatest room to technology as the ideal society. Moreover, it is a combination of the struggle against scarcity, and for abundance, which is the key determinant of all of social change.
Cohen, in his effort to explain Marx, defines the forces of production as the material goods used in production, including the ways those goods are conceived and put together--and encompassing raw materials, the geography, people, knowledge related to production, etc. Relations of production are links between people, contradictory or not. The mode of production is defined as a combination of forces of production and relations of production. The sum of production relations, alone, is the society's economic structure which is categorized along the lines of the relations of production (wage-labor, slavery, serfdom, and so on).
Cohen then makes the principal case for the Theory of Productive Forces:
"The productive forces tend to develop throughout history. Basic changes in the productive forces are largely, though not entirely, independent of influences stemming from the relations of production. Their main source is the desire of rational people to overcome natural scarcity. Thus, there is no zig-zag dialectic between forces and relations, with priority on neither side". (490)
"Forces select structures according to their capacity to promote development...The nature of a set of production relations is explained by the level of development of the productive forces embraced by it (to a far greater extent than vice versa)..."(491)
Then, over time, the productive forces are retarded by the social relations at hand. Over-production, unemployment, a declining rate of surplus value and, hence, profit, imperialist war, all intervene to destabilize the expanding arrangement, the superstructure violates the base and, like a balloon stretching--the arrangement pops.(492)
Cohen never seeks to historicize his position within the context the socialist movement in the U.S.S.R or China. This is mechanical theory applied without its own material base--opportunism and sectarianism united again. What stands outside the forces of production and the class struggle, for Cohen's interpretation of Marx, is human nature or rationality, people always seeking to better their lot by making better machines. What, however, in a crisis of capitalism as apparent as a world war, is there to prevent a bourgeois turn to fascism, organized decay, sufficiently destructive to retard the productive forces for generations? Human rationality itself is a political, class, question demanding historical analysis. It is here that we can see clearly how theory can lead to consistency, alone. Indeed, to historicize Cohen's position would be to trace economism back through, say, Kautsky, and Plekhanov.(493)
The Soviet claim of the fifties, "we will bury you", might well have involved Kruschev's plan to bury capitalism in a sea of refrigerators. The doctrine of productive forces offered a theoretical escape valve, an ideological explanation, for continued inequality in the socialist state, and, indeed, intensified exploitation of Soviet and Soviet-colonial labor. It explains piece-work, the Stahknovite movement, seven day weeks, Taylorism, alienation, continued divisions of mental and manual labor, cities, deification of scientists, all as a necessity for abundance--the newest pre-requisite stage of socialism. Yet there is persistent ambiguity. If the theory of productive forces was the ideological premise for forced collectivization and rapid industrialization in the U.S.S.R, what then would be the importance given to the historical indications of an impending German advance?
Cohen's one-dimensional view denies revolutionary agency, or virtually any human agency--except an innate drive to create improved technology. Cohen's purpose is not to change history, but describe it, as an abstraction of systems. There is really no need for a party (absent in the text) or especially critical consciousness when the productive forces will carry the day. Nor is there need for concentrated mass action to convince elites of a new way to live--or the alternatives.
In the battle of quotes, now comes Engels in 1893, "..the fatuous notion of the ideologists that because we deny an independent historical development to the various ideological spheres which play a part in history, we also deny them any EFFECT UPON HISTORY. The basis of this is the common undialectical conception of cause and effect as rigidly opposite poles, the total disregarding of interaction."(494)
Still, it is not possible to wholly refute the claim that Marx did present a case riddled with technological determinism. But his, "I am not a Marxist", would seem to set this issue aside. The question for Cohen, what did Marx say and when, is better posed as: What is a dialectical and historical report on the material world as it changes today? This is the only scaffold I would try to build on which to dangle Cohen. The weight in quotations may make his case (though I believe I have presented weighty counter-evidence). I say the history and the conditions of the real world make mine. Fortunately, ironically, I am aided by the absence of socialism in any one country. The unleashed productive forces simply did not carry the day.(495)
There is no reason to believe that there will be abundance following any social upheaval in the foreseeable future. Indeed, after a revolution, there is likely to be mass destruction, wreckage of the productive forces. A population that is won only to the good life as a motive for change will not long remain loyal to a regime that asks it to de-consume. What can drive and sustain revolutionary activity is the historically well-grounded calls for equality and democracy, in order of importance, that propel all of human experience. Freire's comments on Vietnam, as an act driven by the abstraction of human will contain the insights to deepen this understanding as an act of the unity of conscious and the material world, their mutual influence, when consciousness is propelled by a real sense of equality. Thus, this comment from a Viet Cong officer:
"All of us lived in the jungles. We all bore the same kinds of hardships and we all ate the same kind of food. When I thought I wasn't alone in bearing these hardships, I felt life wasn't hard at all. When [after being captured] I compared our lives with the outside, or with people in the GVN armed forces, I found we led a much harder life than they did. But in the Front there was no difference between one unit and another; this helped me bear my hardships. When everyone leads the same kind of life, then you won't have anything to envy others about. You feel you've been cheated by life only when people have a better life than yours. If you've been using gas lamps all along, you don't find that the light they give out is weak until someone brings electricity."(496)
If the idea of equality is to become a material force, human consciousness will be the vital link between the objective, external world and egalitarian ideology. Freire's contribution to the role of consciousness and ideology, particularly in literacy edcuation, contains the wisdom that makes this link possible. In order to gain control of what they construct, people must be conscious of the value they create through labor, the fact that their work is necessarily collective, and the ways that have been used historically to expropriate the products of work, including the veils of alienation that Freire seeks to unmask. Moreover, they must understand that mere control of the means of production and systems of distribution appears to insufficient to prevent the replacement of one oppressor with another. The mode of production, ranging from what is to be produced to how, why and by whom, as well as the mode of state power, are at issue as well. In other words, the appearance of equality in relation to the means of production must be met by the essence of equality in government relationships and decision-making at every level.
In Freire, and in most Marxist practice, the contradiction of the material and ideological world is approached as a binary. On one hand is ideology, wishes make dreams come true, and the other hand is the mechanical movement of the material world. This is a false binary---made possible by Freire's idealism which stands ideas above materiality--not part of the contradiction but outside it. Since ideas are a construction in his mind, above all, he is unable to reach into the rich resources available in the complexity of the material world and history for an answer. He theorizes equality in leadership but practices iconicization, his own and others. Thus, Freire is left with an irresolvable proposition: the theory of productive forces versus his dreams of, as Lankshear said at the beginning, "a powerful awareness of inequality and hierarchy".(497) This binary can exist as as a polar opposition because it is primarily an edifice of Freire's intuition.
I do not believe this suggestion abandons Marxist materialism, or entered into a world so dominated by ideology that I am unable to recognize the necessity of work, production. I contend, again, that capitalism is a world-wide system, that it can be taken up anywhere as a system that has outlived its usefulness, particularly in human terms--in terms of the damage it does some classes in order to meet the privileges of others. Changing this situation, not just describing it, is the role of a liberatory educator. It is neither opportunism nor sectarianism, mechanical materialism nor unhinged dialectics to argue, within the bounds of history and the current conditions, that democratic equality is a material possibility, something masses of people can grasp, fight for, and win. Two prongs into that possibility are an analysis of what has mislead socialism so far, and what it is we think socialism can be. We still have a world to win, and less to lose every day.
Finally, I return to Freire. I have shown through an analysis of his
texts and a careful tracing of his theoretical groundings how the Theory
of Productive Forces influences his work and I have commented on how it
is that Freire can at once embody opportunist and sectarian practice. Now
I turn to an examination of the literacy project designed under Freire's
leadership in Grenada.
This section analyzes Paulo Freire in practice. Freire led the initiation of the literacy and education campaign in Grenada, beginning in 1979. According to his comments in Pedagogy of Hope, he was recruited by Grenadian government officials to put together their literacy projects and made two visits to Grenada, in December, 1979, and again in February, 1980.(498) He worked closely with the Minister of Education. His theories were applied, largely in what I believe is good faith, by practitioners and political leaders for four years, although as with any mass effort the line from leadership to the rank and file was sometimes jagged. Freire has never criticized this campaign nor the leadership of the coup which underwrote the program. To the contrary, Freire gave personal leadership to the project. He has praised the literacy campaign and the leader of the Grenadian New Jewel Movement (NJM), Maurice Bishop, and has equated Bishop to one of Freire's great favorites, Amilcar Cabral, leader of a similar coup and literacy program in Guinea-Bissau to whom Freire dedicates Pedagogy in Process.(499)
Freire claims this campaign and the people who implemented it claim him.
In this examination of practice, I will review the historical underpinnings of the New Jewel Movement in Grenada and the literacy-education program which grew from the combined efforts of the New Jewel leadership and Paulo Freire. I will pay particular attention to the role of leaders, the kind of critical education that was created, the issue of open critique versus centralist demands, and the hardly hidden curriculum of national economic development, driven by the theory of productive forces, that was the base of the model. I will also look closely at the openness Freire proclaims, which may be overridden by the closed nature of the systems he helps to create, and I will note again the efforts to link literacy, consciousness, and social change which do contain insights to press forward analysis and action.
I must record at the outset that I participated in a marginal way in the NJM literacy program. My original interest was sparked by friends in my hometown, Detroit, who were familiar with the situation in Grenada and gladdened by the revolutionary change in governments. I traveled to Grenada three times, once in November, 1980, for a period of twelve days, once in March, 1983 for a planned trip of two weeks that was reduced to six days due to a death in my family, and finally from 3 May to 19 May, 1994. During the initial trip, I met with Grenadian teachers and worked on the development of literacy packages with, among others, Jacqueline Creft, later the island's Director of Education who joined Freire in developing the literacy program.(500) On the second trip I quickly became disillusioned with the command-style state of the NJM and the People's Revolutionary Government (PRG) but was buttressed by the spirit and kindness of the Grenadian people who were extraordinarily compassionate to me. However, on leaving, it was quite clear that the PRG was desperately isolated from the mass of people. I was deeply offended by the U.S. invasion of Grenada, an act which I felt was racist, unnecessary and simply belligerent, a diversion from the massacre of U.S. troops in the Middle East and in opposition to the needs of most American citizens. I led demonstrations in Detroit against the invasion, including a sit-in at the Detroit News which had editorialized for the assault on the day before it occurred. My third trip was for the purpose of research for this piece and, again, I was met by helpful people who denied their own immediate interests to make my trip fruitful and pleasant. Hence, I was originally supportive of the Grenadian upheaval and I remain sympathetic to many of its participants and the people of Grenada. I believe my work in Grenada made the conclusions drawn in this paper, in many ways a critical retrospective, possible.(501)
Grenada from the sky is a brilliant green. The whole country can be taken at a glance. It is only twenty one miles long, twelve miles wide. With less than 100,000 citizens stretched out on small land plots under a canopy of 60 foot high trees, it's population is less than Kalamazoo's. At the far southern point is a tiny black slash, the new airport at Port Salines.
Tourism and farming, mostly spices and bananas, have long been the main forces of Grenada's economy. For many years, the absence of an international airport, and the reasonable reluctance of many tourists to endure the barnstorming prop-plane flight from Barbados, dramatically hurt the tourist business.
On March 13, 1979, there was a peculiar revolution, more pointedly a coup, in Grenada, one unique in many ways, sadly typical in others. Because this nation is so small, because the change occurred so swiftly, and was as swiftly reversed, Grenada's experience is especially interesting for review. Freire played a key role in this laboratory effort for social change in which there is knowledge of the before, during, and after periods--sharp breaks which should provide a basis for reflective clarity. In order to understand this uprising, the educational work that was attempted because of it, and the political climate that created it, I briefly put the background of Grenada into a historical context.
The first recorded people on Grenada are Caribs, the nation eradicated finally by the Columbus invasion. The first Europeans came to the island, one hundred miles off the northeastern border of Venezuela, in the early 1600's. They were English, assaulted the indigenous Caribs, and found themselves driven back into the sea. But in the late 1600's, the French seized the island, the Carib defenders leaping off a cliff on the northern tip of the island into the ocean rather than being captured. By the mid-1700's the island was an integral point on the coffee/sugar-rum-slave triangle and conducting a booming trade with England, triple that of even New York State. Trade wars caused the island to shift flags, French to British, several times, but the main struggles--those which established the identity of the island-- were internal. Slave rebellions hit the planting class repeatedly. in the late 1700's, one rebellion led by the freeman Fedon, a literate small-landholder, paralleled the demands of the French revolution, with a decidedly militant Jacobin twist, "Liberty, Equality or Death!"(502) Fedon was crushed, seven thousand people of color murdered, but the resistance held out for 15 months.
In 1833 the Emancipation Act, following slave revolts all over the Caribbean, freed the mass of labors and, simultaneously, caused the importation of indentured workers from Malta and India--completing the racial mix. The introduction of spices and nutmeg, which grew rapidly in a climate with 12 feet of rain per year, caused the downsizing of many plantations and laid the basis for what is today an agricultural economy rooted both in large and small landholdings. Many cultivators work both for a large landholder and for themselves on smaller plots of their own.
In the same decade, James Monroe declared the Caribbean a North American lake and within the purview of American, not European interests. Grenada, lying in the midst of strategic deep-sea channels and, later, air routes, was to one day feel the power of Monroe's prescience.
The Catholic Church built a strong base in Grenada. By the 1850's "some 84% of the population were Roman Catholics and as Roman Catholic schools opened, the population rushed to them". The Church recommended the eradication of the French patois adopted by the mass of people and contributed to the stratification of the school system by race and class. The Church proposed that the bible be the only text of instruction.(503)
Even so, Grenada remained a Crown Colony under direct rule from London represented by a Governor with direct powers. Only large landholders were franchised, a situation which continued until early 1950. Given that the vast majority of Grenadian citizens were locked out of the political process, it's no wonder that they turned to extra-parliamentary activity, trade union organizing for example, to redress their grievances.
In 1951, a dashing populist leader, Eric Gairy was arrested for leading a general strike. Huge crowds gathered and eventually, after two weeks of fighting, won his release. Continuing his trade union work, linking that to the franchise, Gairy rose from organizer to elected official and finally to Chief Minister in 1967.(504)
But by then whatever had been of his egalitarian visions were quite gone. Gairy proceeded to make himself rich, at the expense of most Grenadians. He was a Rosicrucian mystic, bathing in blood and promising to walk across Grenada's Martin's Bay. He squandered the tiny country's treasury on investigations of Unidentified Flying Objects. He womanized. And he locked out everyone but a narrowing group of supporters through a system of economic rewards and terror.(505)
Gairy employed a group of thugs, modeled after Haiti's Ton Ton Mou Coups, to beat and even kill at any sign of opposition. Gairy enjoyed close relations with most of the dictators of the southern hemisphere, from Duvalier to Pinochet, as well as the giant to the north, the United States. Withal, large numbers of poor peasants looked to Gairy for leadership and hope. Gairy had a base. He lived in a mansion overlooking the nation's most beautiful bay and imagined that he might be a god.(506)
But all was not peaceful in Gairy's heaven. There were plenty of people around who wanted what they saw as their fair share. Merchants, lawyers, doctors were every bit as excluded as workers and peasants. The children of those sufficiently wealthy to do so were educated abroad and came back to find no room for their skills--or ideas. One of those young people was Maurice Bishop, born in 1946. Bishop's father, Rupert, a business man, was killed in an anti-Gairy demonstration. Maurice Bishop was trained in Grenada's Catholic schools and educated as a lawyer in England where he was deeply influenced by Caribbean author C.L.R. James, Marx, Lenin, and Hegel.(507)
Locked out of serious political work in his country, Bishop in many ways followed Gairy's path, but with an honesty and respect for the people that Gairy never did more than pretend. Tall, charismatic, a brilliant public speaker but no political in-fighter, Bishop began his career with the public defense of organizing unionists--particularly nurses whose 1970 strike was attacked by the Mongoose Gang and who were arrested for resisting the attack.(508)
Using this and other public forums, and an organizational structure called the New Jewel (Joint Endeavor for Welfare, Education and Liberation) Movement which was formalized in 1973, Bishop too built a mass popular base, for himself and his political party. New Jewel was, in the eyes of its leaders, a Marxist-Leninist vanguard party with exclusive membership, a clear commitment to democratic centralism and working class power. But New Jewel was riddled with contradictions.(509)
NJM was a purported Marxist-Leninist working class party in a country with virtually no industrial base and a tiny working class. It was led by well-educated children of the nations's upper middle class. It built a popular base among both middle class and poor people, but the party itself feared their leadership and desires--even their membership--and, as a purist vanguard, worked to keep them at more than arms length.(510)
Two tendencies in New Jewel were represented by its two key leaders: Bishop, a popular mass leader, eclectic Marxist, and Bernard Coard, a doctrinaire political infighter modeled after Stalin and far more dedicated to centralism than democracy. The two were friends from childhood and firmly united in their mutual Grenadian nationalism. Coard was the son of the most highly placed civil servant in the Grenadian colonial service. A Brandeis graduate who wrote his thesis on the systematic tracking of West Indies students by race and culture in Britain, Coard married Phyllis Evans, heir to the Jamaican Tia Marie liqueur fortune, reputed to be even more doctrinaire a Stalinist than her husband. The radical rhetoric of the New Jewel would never keep pace with its more conservative surroundings and roots. Nor would it ever resolve its own deadly internal contradictions.(511)
New Jewel wanted ideology in all ways. It linked itself with the Socialist International, to which Freire's Workers Party now also belongs, created deep ties with Cuba--especially through a close friendship between Bishop and Castro, and at the same time courted Soviet support. While the tendency in the U.S. might be to see these allegiances as folds in the same cloth, the reality is that in this period there was frequently bitter rivalry between the groups---and New Jewel played a dangerous balancing game. Nevertheless, the NJM followed the Cuban model, a tentative independence yet finally reliant on Soviet support.(512)
While Eric Gairy once said, "He who opposes me opposes God", it was clear not long after independence was won from, or granted by, Great Britain in 1974 that at least among humans Gairy was growing unpopular. New Jewel steadily won elections, despite repeated attacks from the increasingly desperate and isolated Mongoose thugs. As Gairy looted the treasury for his own bizarre pleasures there became less and less to parcel out, and fewer and fewer people willing to tolerate things as they were. Unemployment was rampant.(513)
On March 12, 1979, Gairy left the island to meet with, interestingly, Kurt Waldheim of the United Nations, later exposed as a Nazi war criminal. On the 13th in a nearly bloodless coup that cost but one life and involved less the 200 participants, the New Jewel Movement seized state power in Grenada. It was an extremely popular uprising, but the brief and temperate struggle of New Jewel also meant its political base was extraordinarily thin. NJM was willfully vanguardist. At the time of the coup, only 45 Grenadians could be counted as members and; four years later, that number grew by but 20.(514) Even so, thousands of people paraded through the population center, actually a tiny town overlooking the bay: St Georges. New Jewel had promised jobs, education for all, health care, dental care (of which there was virtually none on the island, rising from the slave-myth that black people have no dental carries) and a new beginning, in short, a chance for the masses of people---including the middle class, to take charge.(515)
From the outset, it was clear that Maurice Bishop's mass popularity was pivotal to New Jewel's acceptance. People were drawn toward Bishop, but while NJM held mass meetings to discuss matters like the economy, there was never any serious question that decision-making in Grenada flowed from the top down.(516) NJM was the only legal party. Bernard Coard played a background role, moving into the interestingly conservative role of the nation's banker where, in a brief period, he stabilized the national economy and lowered the percentage of Grenada's debt service to 3.5%, the lowest in the Southwestern hemisphere and 1/10 of what it is today. During Coard's tenure, remarkable for his "financial acumen and his honest, efficient and cautious management", Grenada received a glowing report from the World Bank and, more demonstratively, received loans from the often impecunious International Monetary Fund.(517) The construction of an international airport, vital to the New Jewel program, required an incredible act of will, against the grain of most of the capitalist world. The driving will here was Coard's who is sometimes reified as an apparatchnik, a party automaton, but whose works provide evidence for a much more serious critique.(518) While Coard favored a mixed economy, nationalizing some key industries like the fisheries, he also pressed had to turn the vast majority of landholdings into workers' cooperatives. For a workers' party to survive long, it was important to create a working class and here education was expected to play a vital role. Coard's goal, at every turn, was socialism established on the base of national economic development, which itself depended on the theory of productive forces. The New Jewel economy was modeled on the Soviet New Economic Policy under Lenin, a transitional program to build capitalism under a benevolent guiding state.(519) The New Jewel leadership saw itself as "way, way ahead of the people" ideologically.(520)
But the visible and popular measures were led by Bishop and his companion, Jacqueline Creft, the mother of Bishop's son, Vladimer. Bishop took main responsibility for translating the New Jewel programs to the people---to bring news of the new day care centers, plans to rebuild schools, and the announcement of the arrival of Cuban medical assistance, doctors, nurses and trainers as well as an exchange program to train Grenadian medicals in Havana. And Bishop took on the task of enlisting Canadian, Libyan, and Cuban help in constructing an international airport, the vital link in national economic development, if not self-sufficiency.(521) This was not the Albanian turn, a serious effort at wholly independent socialism in one country. What Bishop and Coard sought to accomplish for Grenada was a new, nationalist, form of colonization, clearly more sophisticated than the Cuban approach.
Delivery to meet the high expectations of the Grenadian people would have been difficult in itself, but the party predicted and received the immediate hostility of the United States. The Grenadian coup was the first of its kind in the English-speaking Western hemisphere and was not welcomed by the U.S.. It's important to remember that the New Jewel leaders were acutely aware of the implications of the Monroe doctrine--that the U.S. and its CIA had crushed the democratically elected government of Guatemala in 1951, had overthrown and murdered the elected government of Allende in Chile, had invaded Cuba to attempt to overthrow the popular government of Fidel Castro and later tried repeatedly to assassinate him, had engineered the removal of the Jaggen government of Guyana in 1964, and had invaded Santo Domingo with Marines in 1965 to support a rightist junta.(522) New Jewel leaders, particularly spokesperson Bishop, warned of U.S. intervention from first moments of their takeover
The U.S. immediately began to warn tourists away from Grenada and, with the assistance of the government of Barbados, the jumping off place for most Grenadian flights, began to delay and harass those who tried to go. Every overblown fancy of the New Jewel leadership had a not-so-neurotic basis.(523)
New Jewel banned papers purportedly established by the CIA and jailed the country's most prominent journalist, Alistair Hughes. Formal elections were never held even though no one questions the fact that if Bishop stood for a vote he would have won convincingly.(524)
Even so, NJM sought to confiscate the state, not smash it. They established the Peoples' Revolutionary Government (PRG) which, as many locals knew, was merely "synonymous with the central committee of the NJM".(525) The state bureaucracy, including the teaching force, was largely left intact--with compulsory re-education programs. On my second trip to the island, I caught a ride with a fellow who told me his job was as a prefect of police. In response to my comment that the revolution must have made some big changes in his life, that this must be a fairly new job, he said "Oh no, not at all. I did the same thing for Gairy". Didacus Jules, a former education official in the PRG, notes that the PRG people forced to attend NJM re-education sessions were allowed to sleep through them, an interesting sectarian/opportunist link.(526) So, on the one hand New Jewel maintained the state bureaucracy, on the other hand refused to hold the elections which gave the bureaucracy its legitimacy.
Grenada even had its own Kronstadt. A gang of "ultra-leftists" who began to seize planter's estates were smashed by Grenadian New Jewel forces in the earliest days following the coup. Enemies of the revolution, inside New Jewel, became a prime concern.(527)
The Catholic Church played an ambiguous role during the period of the Bishop government. The church had a huge parishioner and educational base in Grenada. Most of the priests, at least according to New Jewel, openly opposed the NJM. They were placed on watch lists. Other priests, more subtle, requested help from the Vatican in the form of Catholic liberation theologists who could bridge the gap between Marxism and Christianity, yet assure the ascendancy of the latter.(528) The NJM never made totalitarian moves toward the church. No priests or church-members were executed or even long detained (there were hundreds of political prisoners under NJM, though there is no record of maltreatment, even from the most partisan voices opposing the PRG).(529)
When I arrived on my first trip, I was told nearly 40% of the adult population was functionally illiterate. I was to perceive, over time, that functional illiteracy statistics in Grenada, like many of the statistics kept on the island, were more than a stretch. My own experience was that the overwhelming majority of people, in the towns and countryside, could read fairly well, but that certain sectors of the population, especially people in small fishing villages, had been missed by previous literacy efforts.(530)
There were 60 primary schools, 20 secondary schools. The drop out rate was high but statistical records were dubious, kept by hand and unverifiable. Record keepers were acutely aware of the political nature of their jobs. They reported data that had partisan support. Most schools were connected with churches and most secondary schools charged steep fees. Only about 20% of the teachers had professional training and those who got it often immediately left the island.(531)
The facilities NJM inherited from Gairy were dilapidated--classrooms were falling apart. The curriculum was colonialist, that is, the majority of students lives at home were denigrated and denied while, at the same time, they were prepared for industrial work that simply did not exist. Education was a major New Jewel priority. The goal, as Bishop had stated early on, was to turn all of Grenada into one big popular school and, importantly, to win genuine democratic participation from the masses of people.
However, in describing the point of the project, Bishop said the purpose was, "..to develop the productive capacity of our society since it is only through an expansion in production that the standard of living, including the education system, can be improved".(532) But the mode and means of production were decidedly capitalist, in part because the PRG was apprehensive that the people who supported the NJM reform measures would not otherwise work, that is, capitalism with a kindly overseer was "necessary to avoid social and economic disintegration".(533)
Bishop was more pointed about the purpose of school under NJM just weeks later: "We must produce the skills that can be absorbed in our economy...we must produce the agriculturalists, the mechanics, the hoteliers, the engineers, the boat captains,..that we need to man our agriculture, our agro-industries, our fisheries, our tourism..."(534)
Further, NJM leaders reiterated their belief that what must first be developed is the productive forces of society, via science and technology, and that technological/industrial advance would necessarily lead to an early stage of socialism.(535) Another minor motive might be found in that some people in the illiterate population were seen by New Jewel as Gairy's political base.(536)
The New Jewel abolished the secondary school fees, began to initiate day care centers, started regular teacher training sessions one full day a week while the children joined local workers in examining the nearby factories, fisheries, and collective farms. But there were serious tensions with some of the traditional teachers who opposed the NJM curriculum. The Grenadian teachers conducted a wage strike in 1981. The new government pleaded poverty--and passed laws making public worker strikes illegal.(537) New Jewel also imported science and math teachers from the U.S.S.R. and Cuba.(538)
To combat adult illiteracy, NJM established the Committee for Popular Education (CPE). Unofficially, and later officially, CPE was led by Bishop's companion Jacqueline Creft and guided by the theories and person of Paulo Freire who came to Grenada twice on the invitation of New Jewel to initiate and provide leadership to the program. The CPE, in turn, was led by a group of six which picked, following the Freireian route, generative themes, rooted in NJM's politics interwoven with a phonetic approach to literacy. The CPE quickly wrote a textbook, "Let Us Learn Together" which was overseen by Freire and used to guide the program. The text focused on Grenadian nationalism and the sense Of "We are one people. We are one Caribbean", through linguistic and ideological pluralism. Additional themes in this textbook included the national airport as a development measure, the need for hard work and discipline, promoting saving habits at the nationalized bank, agricultural self-reliance and productivity, and "the revo brings more doctors". The "Let Us Learn Together" textbook was twinned with a teachers guide, "Forward Ever!" which stressed mutual respect between teachers and students.(539)
Didacus Jules, a former New Jewel official and now a respected researcher on New Jewel education rpograms, says 1,473 people were trained as volunteer teachers or worked in the CPE process which ended in 1981. This amounts to about one person in every 65 on the island, a rather astonishing figure. If illiteracy really was at a 40% level, there was one literacy worker for about every 27 illiterates in Grenada. This raises the question as to whether the CPE was primarily a literacy or political re-education program. There is no evidence as to what social classes were represented by this teaching corps.
Despite the massive effort, "results were not dramatic" according to Jules.(540) Actually, there is evidence that the real grassroots program here was the one that caused the demise of the CPE. People simply walked away, even when material incentives were offered to participants as they moved through the levels of the program. CPE was seen by some NJM leaders as a failure.(541) At the end of more than one year for the CPE, 881 people received certificates, a little more than half the number of trainers.(542) Still, at least 8,000 people, according to the current director of adult education in Grenada, Desmond Latouche, came into contact with the CPE and attended at least some sessions.(543)
The Grenadian textbooks created under New Jewel prove an interesting source. Textbooks are political items, and hardly dialogical ones. They take decisions from the hands of educators and place them in the hands of, at least, decision-making (and usually privilege-seeking) elites. Textbooks cannot meet the quadrant of learning established in Nearing and ostensibly followed later by Freire: an understanding of the particular circumstances of a student, an educator, and a local community coupled with the fourth pillar, a generalized paradigm that makes sense of what is at hand.(544) Instead, textbooks are a template to which the particularity of reality is subordinated. They are inherently directive and, whatever their substance, objectively disempower the people who use them. In this instance, the form of the textbook is a powerful as its substance. NJM was quite aware of the antagonism the party faced from many teachers and took a Taylorist tack--using textbooks to disempower potential opposition--rather than finding a way to win the mass of educators to NJM's position. In the case of Grenada, the CPE textbook template was cracked by Grenadian reality. Nevertheless, Freire led this process, approved of it, and has never criticized it.(545)
The later development of Grenadian primary textbooks (Marryshow Readers--named after a Grenadian nationalist journalist) also followed a Freireian model: the process claimed to involve the local parents, students and teachers, drew on the local language and resources (the study of water, for example) and tried to value local language traditions. Jules acknowledges that the politics of the Marryshow Readers were just somewhat watered down from the textbooks used with adults. The Marryshow readers hardly contradict the line of New Jewel. Textbooks stressed ,"we are all in this together", or, in a literacy reader, "The revolution has room for all of us", (presumably an olive branch to the Mongoose Gang). The readers also pressed all-Caribbean unity. This supra-nationalist stance, we are all in this together, is pivotal in the analysis underlying this review. Just who is in it together with whom, and why, is at issue.(546)
The Grenadian textbooks, as described by Jules, did mildly address sexist and racist practices in a way that began to understand criticizing patriarchy and white supremacy. The Marryshow Readers did portray women as other than cooks. They did not portray white people as the only actors in life, or as bosses. However, an analysis of the Marryshow Reader Infant 1B Textbook titled "Step Forward" in my possession shows adult women portrayed 18 times: 2 times washing clothes, 1 time hanging laundry, 1 time watching a baby, 1 time watching kids play, 1 time waiting for a bus, 1 time riding (perhaps driving) on a bus, 2 times resting, 3 times holding a baby, 6 times gardening in the yard of a home (portrayed as work in the written text).
Adult men are portrayed 20 times: 6 times working on fishnets, 3 times gardening (portrayed as work in the written text), 3 times playing with kids, 2 times resting, 2 times riding a bus, 2 times waiting for that bus, 1 time catching fish, 1 time repairing a bike.
Without decoding, it should be clear who remains the primary historical subject within the Havana-printed Marryshow Reader).(547) Women do not leave the home and work. Men are involved in production.
The Marryshow Reader 1C, also in my possession, follows the same gender-coded approach.
There is nothing in any of the textbooks that would help a student discover how value is created, how it is appropriated, the material base of alienation, or suggesting worker control of the work places or production processes.
Following the CPE program, the NJM established the National In-Service Teacher Education Program (NISTEP). The program had grand designs, to re-train the 70% of the teaching force that had little training. Participants were initially volunteers, receiving wage increases as they moved along. Soon, however, attendance was required and many teachers reported resentment at the commanding style of some of the (often much younger) NJM- NISTEP leaders.(548)
The effort in Grenada relied heavily on trying to influence thought, without the social practices that underpin ideology. For example, New Jewel officials loudly claimed that unemployment dramatically dropped in post-coup Grenada; but the jobs were necessarily paid at sustenance levels, and vast wage gaps remained in place. Unemployed men were drawn into the expanded military. The industrialization plan rang hollow when fisheries cooperatives fell apart after the second year.
There were no major economic shifts under the PRG, except construction which, due to the airport, showed a dramatic 20% increase. At the same time, there was a 7.3% decline in the indigenous livestock/fishing industries.(549) New Jewel, claiming to battle inequality, reified inequality in new ways. While the NJM proclaimed proof of its egalitarianism by cutting the allowance of government ministers by 30%, there was little real change in income distribution during the PRG period. Actually, after the first months, "the biggest gain in aggregate income achieved went to top functionaries in the PRG".(550) On tiny Grenada, it is not hard to find the veils of power transparent. The people noticed that the new leaders had the best homes.(551)
As time went by, the already-isolated NJM, rather than build a popular base, chose to isolate itself further, pointed fingers at one another for the failures of the projects, blamed the people for not accepting progressive leadership, and turned more and more to outside help. NJM officials traveled the world urging other nations for funding--and heavy weapons. The U.S.S.R. was forthcoming with tons of the latter, arms personnel carriers to SAM's, but no money for the airport. The U.S.S.R. trained young Grenadians at the Lenin School and at KGB institutes--and envisioned Grenada as a training center for pro-Soviet action in the hemisphere. The Soviets became "cynical" with their largesse, demanding that the NJM not do things to upset the imperial division of the world.(552) The Soviet front in the U.S., the Communist Party U.S.A., sent its dignitaries, including educators like Angela Davis, to Grenada to celebrate anniversaries of the revolution and used its limited influence to pass local U.S. proclamations honoring NJM.(553) The Vietnamese chipped in with intelligence and military training.(554) Early in the PRG's life, "without a doubt, the greatest economic success was in obtaining loans and grants from other governments and international organizations". In the PRG period, of $62.3 million total grants, Cuba gave $36.6 million. Iraq gave $7.2 million (and plenty in kind. Grenadian school children were given thousands of exam books with photos of "The Leader President Militant Saddam Hussein" on the cover.) Of $47.3 million in loans, Libya gave $10.4 million. Of $15.5 million in military grants, the U.S.S.R. gave more than $10 million. Even with the growing influx of outside help, by 1982, the PRG faced renewed high unemployment, unstable prices, production for profit, and inequities in wage distribution: capitalism.(555)
Soviet cynicism goes beyond hard-headed direction as to what not to do. It involves what is to be done. There is evidence that the U.S.S.R. used Grenadian NJM leaders within the Socialist International, as well as within the U.N. to press the Soviet's interests.(556) For example, the little colony of Grenada, in the midst of the ocean of one colossus, supported the Afghan invasion. Later, after the U.S. invasion, Grenada refused to support sanctions against South Africa.(557)
By the time of my second visit to Grenada, the promises from the NJM were ringing empty with the people. A celebration of the anniversary of the revolution was a tragi-comedy. A small outdoor stadium was sparsely filled with a crowd from the military, civil servants, the uniformed nurses (ever-loyal to Bishop), and children. NJM officials (and I) sat in shaded seats while the crowd in the hot sun happily ignored speeches from PRG leaders and foreign dignitaries--until Bishop spoke. Then, even with reality peering cruelly over his shoulder, the crowd came alive with his speech promising that "those who do the work now hold the reins", hardly the case, even in the hot stadium, but still appealing to the sense of hope and the attack on alienation that carried New Jewel for fours years.
All was not barren vows. The preventative medical system was still intact, reaching into hundreds of Grenadian homes, mostly because of the highly respected Cuban doctors and nurses---respected by the masses of people but held in contempt by many in the traditional Grenadian medical force. Interestingly, the several hundreds of medical students in an American owned off-shore med school on the island seemed to never have interrupted their parties as the revolution flowed and ebbed. They kept alone, in splendid isolation on the beach.(558)
The plan to restore Grenadian public school facilities, at first, brought results, but by 1982 some local officials tended to use the building materials on their own homes. Nothing had been done to reduce class size in K-12 from its 31-1 pre-revolutionary levels. School was, in the base economic sense free.(559)
In 1982 the U.S had carried out a practice invasion of a nation code-named "Amber" (Grenada was known as part of the Ambergine Islands) in a remote area of Puerto Rico. In '82 and '83 a series of terrorist bombings targeted key New Jewel leaders. The American Institute for Free Labor Development and the local Seaman's Union (both with ties to the U.S. CIA) consistently opposed every significant NJM move.(560) There were reports of deep tensions within the New Jewel hierarchy--with Coard and the majority of members of the NJM Central Committee attempting to discipline the free-wheeling Bishop who was repeatedly criticized, and was self-critical, for his unrestrained approach to democratic centralism, his willingness to make promises with no hope for delivery, his lack of attention to detail, and his "idealism". The Hegelian left met the Hegelian right in an insoluble contradiction: mechanical materialism versus unattached idealism embodied in the persons of Coard and Bishop. In this case, internal contradictions appeared to drive external tensions.(561)
On October 12, 1983, the rifts inside the New Jewel Movement came to a head. Bernard Coard, with the approval of the majority of the Central Committee, seized control of the party and had the much loved Bishop arrested for betraying the revolution. Bishop was apprehended in his own house and sentenced to be held incommunicado for a period unknown.
Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Grenadians marched on the house, freed Bishop, and carried him to a nearby fort where they planned a rally. Coard, now the head of the East-German trained Grenadian Army, unleashed a group of armored vehicles. The soldiers fired on the crowd which panicked and almost immediately dispersed, an untold number leaping to their death over a sea wall about one hundred feet over the ocean. Bishop, who had refused to arm the people, ordered his companions not to return fire. The Army then re-arrested Bishop, Creft, Norris Bain, and a group of others, put them against a wall and killed most of them with semi-automatic rifle fire. There is evidence that Jacqueline Creft, a former school teacher, was beaten to death later. Bishop's body was never found. There has never been an accounting of all of the dead. Grenadians simply know their friends and relatives went to the demonstration and never returned.(562)
The NJM Central Committee then issued a communique saying it was now in charge, that it would soon hold a constitutional election and that a dawn to dusk curfew would be enforced for a period uncertain. Bishop supporters went into hiding and began to organize a movement to overthrow Coard--a movement which would likely have had a mass popular base if only because it was crafted around Bishop's martyrdom. Castro immediately denounced the coup leaders and likened them to the Khmer Rouge. Only the Soviet Union was supportive of the Coard group actions.(563)
On October 23, 10 days after the self-coup, more than 50 U.S. Marines in Lebanon were killed by a terrorist bomb. The Marines retreated to the sea--a grotesque reminder of the colossus with a feet of clay.(564)
On October 25, under justification that the Soviet Union was building a secret military airstrip on Grenada and that the lives of American medical students on the island were in danger; the U.S. caused the leaders of the nearby Caribbean nations to call for a "rescue mission". The notion that "we are all one Caribbean people" came back and bit New Jewel. The U.S. sent thousands of Marines and Navy Seals to invade an island the size of Kalamazoo---in clear violation of international law. There is no question that the invasion received the support of most Grenadians who felt besieged. But there is no evidence that anyone of concern to the U.S., including the medical students, was in real danger after the internal coup. To the contrary, people felt safe--until the U.S. hit the beaches. The medical students and the director of the school denounced the invasion on world band radios and continued to do so until they were briefed by American intelligence agents after the invasion.(565)
While there was considerable support for the invasion, there was also much stiffer resistance than the Americans expected--from the Cubans who had a different sense of critical consciousness. The Coard government, denounced early on by Bishop's friend Castro, held on for several days. The Cubans, caught between national pride and not wanting to die fighting a government their own leader had attacked; put up a sharp defensive battle until their safety to return to their homeland was guaranteed. Most Grenadians welcomed the invasion.
The invasion itself set new standards for U.S. military actions. The press was simply not allowed near the action--not within 50 miles. A couple of reporters did rent boats and risk the open seas to see the action, but the reportage to the American people was completely controlled by the military--a limited form of literacy meant to correct errors in text made during the Vietnam invasion.
This meant, for example, that the press did not see the operation which was, as admitted years later, grossly bungled. The press did not see the fact that during the invasion, the U.S. bombed a mental hospital killing some 30 people.
There are a variety of interpretations of the implosion of the New Jewel Movement. I find none of the written records (the Grenada Documents speak for themselves in but a limited fashion) to be satisfactory. Coard told me, in May, 1994, that there was "nothing more to say. It was a Greek tragedy".(566) Didacus Jules indicates Coard is self-critical, saying New Jewel's leaders should have paid more attention to the masses of people.(567) In my interview, Coard did not repeat this criticism. No thorough-going explanation was offered at the trial of the New Jewel Central Committee which was charged and convicted of Bishop's murder.(568) Freire, while he does not name Coard, does say that Bishop was assassinated by the "sectarian, authoritarian, fanatical, incompetent left". Freire also says that Bishop lived a life of "consistency between what he said and what he did". (569) But Freire's comments do not help unravel Bishop's long standing uncritical allegiance to these same people, Coard et. al. ; nor does Freire's observation provide clues into what systematic foundations existed for the Coard group to come into power.
External pressure, especially the U.S. tourism blockade, damaged New Jewel; but it was only the internal weakness of the party that made its destruction possible. NJM leaders promised the people that the masses would take control of their work, their lives and their consciousness, then put the people to work for the Central Committee's privileged notion of socialism through national economic development. Eventually, this built a base for the kind of cynicism that caused Grenadians to welcome the invading U.S. army, despite the fact that New Jewel had given them schools, dental care, doctors, vaccinations and housing. No critically conscious people rose up against the invasion. The people of Grenada were willing to place their fate in the hands of Ronald Reagan. This was the result of an ideological error which led to social practice, in the name of protecting revolutionary theory.
Even so, I must underscore my perception that in the early days of New Jewel, I believe I encountered people more hopeful about the possibilities to take chances and improve their lives than I have ever met anywhere else. But today there is a sense of despair in Grenada, expressed by nearly every person I interviewed at length. People no longer believe their actions can influence their own lives.
Following the invasion, the U.S. installed a government led by a conservative who had, in 1974, opposed Grenadian independence from Britain. The modest land reforms were reversed. Unemployment, already rising, virtually exploded. The educational reforms were renamed, continued in form but stripped of the New Jewel political messages, and finally largely abandoned--though clearly much of the hope that lay beneath them was abandoned some time before. The U.S. made multiple promises to the Grenadian people, better schools, better health care, jobs, tourism--a remarkable adoption of the New Jewel program. The Cuban doctors and medical workers were driven away, though some of the Grenadian doctors trained in Cuba returned to their Grenadian homes. This group includes Terry Marryshow, grandson of the man who gave his names to the Readers, and now the leader of the Maurice Bishop Political Movement, connected to the Trotskyist U.S. Socialist Workers Party; a double irony. The U.S. finished the airport. Hundreds of U.S. troops and intelligence agents remained on the island. A second invasion came in the form of Christian evangelists and Army psychological operations teams. These operatives have found it necessary to build on, not attack, the name of Maurice Bishop. Many of NJM's programs were renamed, later dropped. NISTEP became INSTEP and disappeared.(570) One product of the invasion, the phone system, a direct line to the U.S. from nearly anywhere on the island, remains intact. In late 1984, a U.S. backed coalition government won a parliamentary election, crushing the Maurice Bishop People's Movement fifteen to one. MBPM got less than four per cent of the vote. No serious commentator disputes the openness of the election which must be seen as a reflection of the critical consciousness of the Grenadian people.(571)
The U.S. promises dwindled year by year. Then the U.S.S.R. imploded as well. And any reason for U.S. government concern for Grenada vanished. In 1990, the Agency for International development left the island. In 1994, the U.S. said it would close its Grenadian embassy--to save money. Today, emigration is one of the key sources of the Grenadian economy. More than two thousand people leave each year and send money home. Others return to retire and build large villas. More Grenadians live outside the country than in it. Drugs are now an acknowledged key part of the new economic development. Officials admit Grenada is a key shipping point, but the island itself is not awash in cocaine or marijuana beyond a few sellers trolling the tourist beaches. There is considerable concern that the Columbian drug cartels will influence the late 1994 Grenadian elections.(572) It is possible that a returned Gairy or his representatives will carry the vote. The MBPM is isolated and split by internal differences, Trotskyists versus social-democrats. Because Grenada is rich in soil and water, and because the country's people have a tradition of small landholding and mutual support, Grenada is not overrun by homeless people or hungry children begging as in, say, Washington, D.C., or Sao Paulo. For the tourist interested only in beaches and appearances, it remains a paradise. But even with dubious counts, unemployment is estimated at 40-50%.(573) The island's superstructure is coming apart. Thousands of Grenadians are forced, each day, to collect and carry water because the pipelines are collapsed. The education system remains grossly underfunded and school fees are fully restored, resulting in an intensified stratification of kids by income levels. Class size in Grenada now averages about 37:1, up from 31:1 in pre-PRG years.(574) Aid from other countries is disabled by the laissez faire attitude of the government. Two fishing boats given to the Grenadian government by the Japanese sit fallow in the harbor, sold to private vendors who did not know how to run them. There are few books on the island. The nation's library is scantily stocked. An offer to ship cargo-containers filled with classic books was rejected by a post-PRG education minister who refused to share half of the cost for shipping.(575) The official estimate of illiteracy on the island is "between 3 and 6%". Highly-placed teacher leaders argue it is "at least 30%".(576)
The Grenadian case provides an example of Paulo Freire's literacy projects, not merely in theory, but surrounded with all the complexities of social practice. In practice, ambiguity about primers translated into the production of counter-interactive textbooks. In practice, the impenetrability of critique through critical consciousness became nationalist Stahknovism, piece work in the name of development. I underline the role of leader-elites, the top-down nature of the literacy project which pretended to rise from the bottom up--like the budget process, the binary roles of ideology and the demands for national production, the fear of the people from middle-class elites coupled with a mechanical economist/technological approach to social change, the reliance on talk to settle or mollify material differences. There was nothing dishonest about the actors in this tragic series of events. I note the respect paid to Coard's economics and the internationally recognized concern for the mass of people that was so much a part of maurice Bishop. To the contrary, it appears these were well-intentioned people working with a flawed and inherited, and uncritiqued, theory. The theory that all the actors agreed upon, with varying secondary differences, led to their social practice. This was not the divorce of theory and practical work, it was the logical extension of theory to practice. I also underline that the primary problem of New Jewel was internal. If we are to comprehend dialectics, it is the internal which is the pivotal point of change, and the irreconcilable contradiction in New Jewel led to its implosion. It also sabotaged the literacy effort.
My last visit to Grenada in May of 1994 was made fruitful by the kindness of Grenadians who set aside vacations to make it possible for me to conduct interviews and inquiries in their country. I was given free rein. Government officials answered my questions and urged me to others for verification. Private citizens were initially somewhat restrained, probably for good reason. Often, after lengthy sessions, private citizens would express to me their sympathy for the imprisoned Coard group, saying they had been jailed long enough and should be allowed to leave the country. Then they requested anonymity. I agreed to the requests on this topic. I note only a general response that most people I met, by far, want Coard and his cohorts freed. Some leaders of the current government, and newsperson Alistair Hughes, are less forgiving. But even if Coard and his colleagues ere freed, most people also want them to leave the island. Grenadians have seen power shift rapidly and know record keeping is not neutral. Just as there are no non-partisan books about Grenada, it is unlikely that there are non-partisan investigators. I asked questions which derived from my interest in the Promethean formula developed by Freire which I analyzed in Chapter Two. What is literacy? Why carry on a literacy campaign? What are the levels of literacy? How would you describe critical consciousness? What should motivate a literacy campaign? Why should we want people to read? How would you envision liberty? Given the nature of the questions, some of those interviewed surely made assumptions about my own views, some correct and some not. One government official, after the interview, assumed I was a Republican. I am not. When people asked me my views on particular issues, I gave particular and honest replies. I asked people what they had done during the PRG, what its goals were, as well as their individual goals. I asked educators what materials they used, why, how they taught, where they learned their pedagogical methods and why they adopted them, and what kind of literacy/consciousness they tried to create. I asked them to tell me what the main goal of their work was. I asked them to describe the attitude of people toward education. I asked them what kinds of political consciousness exist on the island now, for example, do you support the U.S. intervention or are you involved in, or supportive of, opposition groups today? What are the policies of those groups that you like or dislike? I tried to locate people who were involved in the literacy programs as teachers, students, and administrators.
Power surges in Grenada rendered my camcorder, and my laptop computer, useless. I found many people put off by my tape recorder so I put it away after conducting two interviews on tape. While to some it may seem a counter-qualification, I feel compelled to reveal that I have trained as a union organizer for the last twenty years. In that period, I was involved in three campaigns that did not succeed--and substantially more victories. Each of the losses came from not carefully listening to the people involved. I have been trained in, and honed, listening and reportage skills. I believe I am alert to the need to attempt to accurately reflect what people tell me. I am acutely aware of the need to struggle to minimize the application of my wishes to their comments. Successful organizing campaigns are based on what the local people say.
After we spoke, after each interview, I set aside at least an equivalent amount of time to record what was said. I wrote by hand, a practice long recognized by anthropological investigators like Clifford Geertz and education researchers like Harry Wolcott.(577) The lengthy hand-written notes are in my possession. In the next chapter, I have summarized and paraphrased what I was told. If this results in the "thick description" that Geertz characterizes, then I have had success. I tried to faithfully record what the people said, and not to steer them onto my paradigm. But, unlike Geertz, I acknowledge that I have a paradigm, and what it is. I find Geertz's affected reliance on particularities, and denial of the constant presence of interpretive paradigms, to be somewhat disingenuous. I agree with Geertz that cultures are infinitely complex, and reliable access to cultures is the lynch-pin investigators must discover.(578) I also agree with Geertz that it is the detailed examination of cultures, and its recording, that is of use to other researchers who might discover other meanings in my work. I think the people who gave me access, especially Desmond Latouche and Angela James, did so in the spirit of giving me as much data as possible in the time I would be with them. They encouraged me to investigate a variety of paths, each originating from a different perspective. They had no special axe to grind except to help me seek what is true about Grenada. They had opinions on how that could be done, and what was true, but they posed their positions as only part of a greater whole--a most sophisticated approach. I believe my writing of interviews that follow accurately reflects the statements of the participants, and that the data they gave me, in their eyes, was true.
My visit to Richmond Hill Prison was made possible through the good offices of Desmond LaTouche, Coordinator of Adult Education In Grenada, and the present Prison Commissioner, Winston Courtney. I wish to make it clear that Mr. Courtney appears to have the best interests of the prisoners at the front of his mind. This, according to the history which cross-checks with several witnesses, distinguishes him from former wardens about whom the prisoners, and some civilians, complain bitterly. The prisoners, and especially Bernard and Phyllis Coard, have written at length and protested at their trial about the torture and denial of rights they believed overshadowed the case against them.(579) What follows is a transcription of the notes I made immediately following my interview with Coard and others. No prison officials were present during the interviews which took place in a classroom and outside the prison library. Participants spoke freely. In this case, the use of recording devices was prohibited, a rule the prisoners chose to obey.
I was in Richmond Hill Prison from 10:40 a.m. to 1:40 p.m. Richmond Hill is on one of the most beautiful overlooks of Grenada. The jail is immediately adjacent to a courtroom building at the end of a winding road leading up from St. George. Seventeen NJM members remain in prison, sentences reduced from hanging to life, for the murder of Maurice Bishop, Jacqueline Creft, Norris Bain, and others, perhaps hundreds of Grenadian citizens. One enters through an aging green security gate, travels down a typically pockmarked lane interrupted by unnecessary speed bumps, past a small guard house, and to the office of the Director, a man of notable military bearing wearing the chevaliers of "HMP" and carrying a swagger stick which he uses as a pointer and a door knocker.
The Director took Desmond Latouche and me on a tour of the prisoners' work areas. The ocean breeze blowing across this hilltop is an incongruous intrusion into what prison life is portrayed to be. But the smell of Richmond prison is a reminder, always, that this is a jail, a very old one. Women prisoners are kept separate from men, though some limited visiting is permitted. I saw about a dozen women at work. The women, including Phyllis Coard, work as seamstresses, making heavy blue denim prison uniforms. Phyllis Coard jerked bodily over an old machine whining beneath her spasmodic fingers. She looked up at us, surprised, appeared as if she would speak, shook her head, her face trembled, and she returned to work. The warden moved us along, saying that "Mrs. Coard has had a difficult time". The men are held in areas slightly down the hill from the women. As we entered the work area, the men rose with a "Good morning, sir", to the warden, apparently heartfelt, at least not with any sarcasm that I could note--nor out of any obvious sense of fear. I should point out that this kind of greeting is common in Grenada, when employees greet employers for example, but also when citizens simply greet one another. We walked through a woodworking shop where the men were making beds on ancient lathes, through a floor-mat making tin-topped hut where coconut shells are converted to mats on a machine driven by a screaming rubber belt, through a broom shop and a rope-making shop (to say shop probably overstates the tiny tin sheds), past a large prison farm in the adjoining valley, brown with the sun, past a work crew (including former General Hudson Austin on the shovel and looking quite trim, down form his heavy-weight photographs) constructing a water facility, through a 3' by 5' brown door within a huge gate, and into the interior prison yard (here the warden left us), upstairs to the prison library which, with about 100 books, is not a terribly distant second to the Grenada National Library. We went to a second floor classroom, a dank place once painted, perhaps, yellow, maybe light brown, where about fifteen men, clad in the tough blue denim of the jail, were seated listening to a lecture by one of their colleagues on the intricacies of the human heart. It became quickly clear to me that this was not an introductory course; the fellow speaking had medical training.
On a wooden bench in the rear sits Bernard Coard, Minister of Finance of New Jewel. He looks fit. His teeth are still good, eyes slightly off focus behind a pair of thick dark corrective glasses. He talks with Desmond LaTouche and me while the class continues, then as the conversation gets good we move outside the door. He is fully upright, about 5'11", probably 190 pounds, no visible signs of maltreatment, and with a ready smile when he addresses a subject that fascinates him. Coard is clearly fulfilled by mental work, the struggle of debate. We are joined by Selwyn Strachan and other prisoners as the conversation continues. They do not contribute but watch intently.
Asked the base of the national literacy project, Coard is straightforward, "Economics. Production. For national development." He explains in elaborate detail the rippling effect of adult literacy--into the family, into the home, into more sophisticated jobs (which he saw as the future of Grenada, not labor intensive, but capital-intensive high-tech jobs). "It's a very small island. You can have 10,000 people here unemployed and call that 40% unemployment. Figures here get magnified. But five factories of industries could wipe that out. Our plan was to use the money from the airport to recreate the nature of work in Grenada, to have fully high- tech employment based on the next stage of the education program, vocational-technological education. We put education first to develop the human resource, which should be seen as constant capital, for national economic development".
Responding to my question, "What do you see as the link between literacy, political consciousness, and support for, a mass base for, the revolution?", Coard replied,
"You can generate a lot of support from people through their pocketbooks. We set in place a mass housing program, often benefitting the poorest people in Grenada, the people in Gairy's base, which influenced thousands of people, especially in a country where one house fits six or seven. We also relied heavily on the educational aspects of our mass rallies. That happened at least every week (the new government is trying to duplicate that with festivals now-- in fact they've adopted, adapted, many of our programs under the slogan 'good programs---bad guys of the past'). These mass rallies, usually led by Maurice Bishop, combined the spirit of the revolution with the basic information, economic factors local, national and international, that the people needed to understand their lives and surroundings. So these rallies were a new form of literacy which built political consciousness and support for the revolution.
Of course we invited Freire, as you know, and he designed the literacy campaigns. I think they were pretty successful. We believed we halved the rate in four years, most of that the first year. He put together the workbooks with Creft and others. They were as we hoped. The textbooks would have helped build our technological class. Now things are going fast backwards. All the time we get in here young men, 17, 18, 19, who passed through Grenada's education system and still cannot read or write. We set up this literacy program here because of that. It happens all the time, man, even from St. George."
The literacy campaign would have made jobs, would have made technological development possible so we could be a high- tech country. That was possible then."
And democracy or equality or social justice?
"Those come with the enhanced economic base. But you must see that the PRG was far more democratic than any previous government and far more fair with the masses of people. Equality also means equal chances to go to school and get a job. We had incentives to get people to work and to heighten the desirability of jobs. But the main thing was to put people in motion building the national economy and then things could flow from there."
At this point, Coard entered a long discussion about the state of education as it is today. He accurately described the number of scholarships available to secondary school children post-revolution but credits the revolution for what scholarships are there. He pointed out the privatization of schools on the island, the return of biased entrance exams and fees. He claimed the revolution created a whole new class of professionals. Before the PRG only the professional class could produce professionals. the revolution sent children all over the world for technical training to learn to be dentists, and doctors and lawyers and economists. Now they are back in Grenada and they have not lost their cultural ties. So Coard claims they may outnumber the old people who once constituted that class and because of their numbers they are changing the nature of that class itself. That was an important goal.
"I would rather not say that the teachers were a weak link. We did plan to retrain them all over time. They did volunteer work during the CPE period for example and many were supportive. The invasion hit our retraining process. Remember many of our plans were crushed but we still made big steps. Yes, our materials were directive and crude. But remember when those Soviet and Cuban teachers were here, even the nuns said, 'We want them back' because they weren't teaching doctrinaire politics, they were teaching math and science and subjects to promote national economic development and growth. That was the political part. But of course we should have developed more sophisticated textbooks.
We developed Marryshow and Let Us Learn Together under great
pressure and time constraints. We put together a crusade about literacy in less than a year. Remember it was a crusade. It involved the spirit of the masses of people. Whenever a top leader stepped forward, that leader talked about literacy, the importance of reading the material. But we also developed a structure based in the constant capital of the people, that reached nearly the entire population. And today, while they use many of the things NJM built, from the airport (which they could not destroy like they tried to destroy the rest of the revolution) to the adult literacy campaign, the bureaucrats cannot understand that in any of these campaigns money need not come first. People are the constant capital of that job. You can carry on decent classes under a mango tree. That may not be
ideal, but it can be if the people are participating. I cannot understand why this cannot be done today. These men (today) are not corrupt or dishonest or incompetent, they are in fact fine patriots, men who have their country deep in their hearts and who you could call at midnight with an educational problem, but they do not and seemingly will not put people first in their plans. It is always building, materials, etc.
The education plan was to build the economy. As the economy grew, then
we would move more to the other goals. We had great plans for full employment
through technological development, through building the economy, but, well
the but is why I am here."
I asked Coard his estimate of the political consciousness of people in Grenada now. He replied that people are "cynical, but they remember the New Jewel programs. They know the way we were creating development was working. But no one believes the current leadership can do anything. There are no new leaders around and none in sight."
Asked how it is there are no leaders now, Coard simply shook his head. He said, "The invasion crushed the leadership and many people are fearful now."
Coard went on to discuss the possibilities for his release from prison, which he thinks are less than 50-50. He indicated that he would like to do work for the Ministry of Finance from jail, but if he is ever released he wants to leave the island, permanently. Now he assists in running the prison adult education program. He thinks nothing good can come from his presence in Grenada. He insists he did not get a fair trial and should be released for that reason alone. Coard also says he was tortured, as were most of the men, but that the women were tortured most severely. Phyllis Coard is clearly unwell, he says, "Now, not well in her mind".
When asked what is the role of school and educators in social change,
Coard again turned immediately to a discussion of national economic development
and the vital link development plays in social change. He never raised
the issue of class consciousness. Informed that I believe the theory of
productive forces is a Trojan Horse, Coard looked briefly surprised and
TM says there are, "all the other parties, which are alike,
and us. They have proved they are for stagnation and we are for all the reforms the PRG stood for under Maurice-- except the Marxist-Leninist rhetoric. We are not Marxist- Leninists. We are a national patriotic party in the name of Maurice Bishop. People in the third world require charismatic leaders. They have just not gone past that. In any case, MB was an extraordinary man, not a crude communist like Coard who could never gain the love of the people but a kind man who loved the people and they loved him in return. That is why we chose the name. But the people, even the old activists, are fearful and still confused and hiding in the woodwork. We cannot get people of substantial quality to run with MBNP and that holds us back. We have democracy now. Why will they not vote or participate?"
TM believes events will finally carry the MBNP to power. But he says there are no leaders on the island that take a perspective similar to Bishop's, and right now there is no organization, including his own, which can mobilize what he calls "a powerful, in any way, opposition". Marryshow, then, sees events, economic decline in particular, as pushing people to reconsider his party. His office, a large walk-up off a downtown alley, has four sizeable rooms; an examination area, a business area, a dental clinic, and the official site of the headquarters of the MBNP where I found, to his slight consternation, U.S. Socialist Workers Party tracts on Malcolm X, Fidel Castro, and copies of their Trotskyist paper, "The Militant".
Pressed on the MBNP educational program, TM says his party's prime focus will be education, literacy, and, at top, building the national economy and consciousness.
"Because there must be economic development before anything else. The professional class must play a leading role in developing the economic base and national superstructure, probably in high-technology. But there can be no national economic growth without the leadership of the professional class, which gave birth to Maurice Bishop and the spirit of the people which Bishop mobilized".
Miss Francis (as she asks to be called) is the principal of Anglican High, a girls' school where the average class size, by my count in observing six classes through the day, is 41. The girls come to the severely dilapidated school uniformed, as do most children in Grenada. Miss Francis was a teaching colleague of Jacqueline Creft (both taught at the Grenada Boys School) and taught secondary classes throughout the PRG period. While she did not participate in the original Freire literacy groups, she knew people who did. Miss Francis and I spent considerable time discussing the present state of education in Grenada which she finds more and more segregated by the increasing fees and declining availability of school facilities--less is available for fewer children. In addition, Miss Francis feels restricted by the "Caribbean Syllabus" which is used from the primary grades through the secondary years. The teachers work from the syllabus each day. Miss Francis recognizes that the syllabus is designed to create employees, but feels that at least those employees will be fully competent. Indeed, there is discipline in Grenadian schools that I have not witnessed for many years. The children rise when the teacher enters. There is a minimum of talk in the classroom. The children chant responses and address their teachers as "Miss..." Miss Francis would prefer a co-ed school but feels most Grenadians are still convinced that sex-segregated schools are the most effective.
Regarding her teaching during the PRG period, Miss Francis felt her
professionalism as a teacher was threatened. "There was a total lack of
freedom. If you didn't teach the PRG line, you were fired. More than 20
people were removed from their posts." Miss Francis did not attend NISTEP
sessions but did attend adult literacy training classes, after the textbooks
were chosen. She believes NISTEP was designed to re-educate younger teachers
and that older teachers' skills were denied and they were written off as
politically hopeless. At the same time, she credits Creft with a devotion
to teaching, Maurice Bishop and the policies of the NJM. She thinks it
was good that the NJM set up the literacy campaigns and NISTEP, but she
feels that people were denied the freedom to teach about things they knew
best. "The textbooks took things away from us as teachers". As more time
went by into the PRG period, Miss Francis believes more and more teachers
began to just teach the old material because there was less and less time
for he PRG to pay attention to them. Miss Francis is not aware of any dramatic
change in teaching methods during the PRG period. She says that what changed
was the content of what was being told to children. It is the content,
she says, that distinguished the former textbooks from the current syllabus.
She felt the material in the textbooks was very directive and she disagreed
with the political line which she felt drove the texts. However, when asked
what specifically in the textbooks she did not like, she returned to the
idea that it was the line of the PRG that she did not like, that is, she
objected to her notion of socialism which she did not identify as part
of the text, and she indicated that she did feel that the textual references
to developing the national economy made sense, were what should be done.
But she believes the texts themselves led to, if they did not specifically
contain, socialism--which she opposes. Miss Francis indicates that it was
not enough, especially during the early PRG years, to simply teach; one
had to teach appreciatively of the PRG line, or one was considered an enemy.
She says the materials chosen, the texts written, were created to build
the national economy through education, which she says is continuing now,
but with less dedication. Less of the government budget, it seems to her,
is spent on education and there is less willingness to sacrifice to get
behind education than under the PRG. Miss Francis does credit the "young
and exciting" NJM leadership with building support for the literacy programs
and with getting teachers (and doctors) trained. She also says the PRG
shifted monies into the education system and began to subsidize all schools
more, which had the effect, in the first year, of raising teacher pay.
But even with that, many teachers did not like the PRG because they felt
they were under constant watch, even in the last stages of the PRG rule.
Miss Francis returns often to the view that many of the PRG programs were
good, but the PRG was not. She approves of the Airport, the adult eduction
programs, the health care system; but she says the NJM officials were,
"at the end of the day, just out for themselves, or many of them were.
They were also many good young men with bad ideas." Miss Francis thinks
that many, probably most, of her current graduates will not get jobs. She
misses the hopefulness of the PRG period, even though she considers it
false. She believes the education system in Grenada will continue to deteriorate,
despite the disciplined efforts of dedicated teachers, and that nothing
can be done about it. Less than half of the children who apply to secondary
school now get in, and that figure will go down.
Miss Morris (Grenadian teachers call one another Miss and Mr, and ask to be addressed this way) was teaching a class of 44 girls on the topic of teenage pregnancy when I came to observe her class. Girls are removed from Anglican High if they get pregnant. Five are now out of this class. Miss Morris teaches dialogically: Why is this a problem? Why are so many young girls (thirteen to seventeen years old, 19% of this group in Grenada, more than double that for the Caribbean) getting pregnant? The noise from surrounding classes is sufficient to drown out many of the answers but Miss Morris works the girls through the problem as it is seen through their eyes, and they develop the answers. They discussed the effects of teenage pregnancy on the girls, and on the community and the girls moved the discussion to talk about methods of prevention. That then became a session on STD's. This was the most teacher-student interaction I witnessed in Grenada, and the least directive. I was able to interview Miss Morris in the moments between classes. She taught during the PRG period and worked with the "Let Us Learn Together" textbooks. I asked three questions: Would you have chosen these textbooks? "No, they were not too bad, but they didn't have the children in mind, or the adults. They did not consider them first. But it was better than now, when there are no textbooks or only one book for every two or three children--and no other books anywhere." Why do you think those textbooks were chosen? "Because they were written with the positions of the PRG in mind. Just a few people really wrote those textbooks and they adopted the positions of the PRG and the NJM. Some of those ideas were quite fine, but they perhaps pushed too fast." What do you think the purpose of the textbooks was? "To develop more literate people in order to better their chances to improve the economy. They hoped the people would be able to work more efficiently." Miss Morris is deeply concerned that the girls she teaches have no future, and that pregnancy is their only available means of self-validation.
I met with five other teachers from Anglican High on this date. Four of this group had not been teachers during the PRG, One, Miss Morgan, was somewhat more positive about the PRG textbooks. However, her comments as to the purpose of the textbooks paralleled Miss Morris's. All of the teachers, meeting in a hurried session with me in the room that serves as the teacher's lounge, requested books from the U.S., textbooks, dictionaries, any books. They simply do not have enough.
Pauline Waldron and I spent about 5 hours together over a period of three days. Her office is adjacent to the Adult Education offices at the Grenada National College, the area that I used as an operating base. I was therefore able to see her frequently, if intermittently, as she had duties to attend to and usually had her adopted seven year old son, Daniel, with her. Waldron is a practicing Seventh Day Adventist, was principal of a Grenadian school, and taught and worked on the literacy campaigns of the PRG period. She was certified as a teacher through the University of the West Indies and received her M.A. in Language and Literacy at Lancaster University in Great Britain. She taught for 28 years in Grenada before coming to the Grenada National College to coordinate a literacy program which is to begin before the next election, in October, 1994. She is aware of the probable political reasons for the initiation of the program at this time but feels that it is important for Grenada to have a literacy program as illiteracy, which she says she really cannot estimate but guesses at 25%, is on the rise. As she begins to prepare for the literacy project, she tutors young adults who walk into the college. There is no outreach program. Right now, her work is unpaid, that is, while she was told this position is a paid job, she has not been paid since February, 1994. She is able to get along on savings but regularly protests to the Ministry of Education and expects to be paid in the not so distant future. In her current volunteer status, she continues to teach reading to young people as well as to people entering the college for skills training in office arts or hospitality work. There is no prescribed college text and Waldron does her own test designs based on student interests, like auto mechanics. She hopes the Ministry will fund a literacy project that will be based in the communities, regularly doing outreach, not trapped in an office. She plans to base her literacy campaign on androgogy, a learner-based curriculum which looks a great deal like the old PRG program, and she acknowledges that the PRG plan is the base of her plan, the latter somewhat diluted.
Waldron states that in the earliest days of the PRG, there was no textbook. People produced their own texts and then devised their own textbooks for particular classes. She found this topical, but the language remained a problem--the textbooks were sometimes too complex. What follows here is a near-verbatim transcript of my handwritten notes, though I record that my transcription is insufficient to reproduce the rich wisdom in Pauline Waldron's use of the language:
"During that period, some Grenadians became authors. There were wonderful poets writing then but they are not politically published now. Then it became necessary to have production for textbooks and the Cubans did that. Then we got the PRG textbooks. And the change from the people's textbooks, which were just hand done, to the official textbooks, that caused political problems. Whenever you have a literacy campaign, you have political problems."
I think there is a danger in having any textbook. No text is neutral. Are we not now trying to do a sanitized PRG textbook? Of course we are. But having no books, as is the case in many Grenadian classes now, that is not helpful either. Before the PRG there were textbooks, but they denied the peoples' lives. Then there was the brief period without textbooks and people became producers of literacy. Then came the PRG textbooks which were just standardized items. Now there is no PRG and there are no books. This is a difficult dilemma.
The PRG came to power very fast and had no real mass base because of that. Then they had four years and could not overcome illiteracy and could not develop a base of support for themselves. But, as you notice many people now, including the current government support many of New Jewel programs. There were difficult internal and external problems for the PRG but many things they did were important. There is no talk now about the woman question which PRG mad a definite out-front fight about. A few women can carry on without the PRG. Many cannot. The woman question is dropped by the government but I am not going to get involved in that. There is a calypso song now, 'The revo is over and now I can beat you'. The National Women's Organization is there but it is not government policy any longer.
Freire's approach is in many ways radical but in many ways like many other projects, Dewey for example. Freire's way is not a new one. But I think that a government, as he did here, should never be in the forefront of a literacy campaign. That needs autonomy. I would like to do this with the cooperation of the non-governmental organizations like the women's organizations, the World Council of Churches of Grenada, the Agency for Rural Transportation. This would give our program some autonomy. These groups have people with them, as do some of the unions.
But back to the textbooks; they are never neutral. The PRG textbooks drew a lot of bad press on the island, from a press which was not neutral. People said they were full of red ideology. That revo showed me how much respect people have for print. The (post-revolution) government just grabbed off all the PRG textbooks. There was a mad scramble for them and there are no more now. But texts can impose too much bias, and not give the teacher a part. In working with adults I try to build a language experience, but some adults do not want to use their own language. They want an official text like the ones they understand are used in real schools. People who do not see themselves as writers, I think, often want a textbook. But that then holds them back as writers.
I find myself, oddly, proposing a revised text (revised from the PRG base) because our clientele want a textbook, I think. We shall see. We have yet to really start. But we are ready with a textbook even though I am generally opposed to them. Unlike the PRG, we have built in training from the beginning. The PRG did not have time. That was when they had no textbooks and things went pretty well. Interesting. But the PRG then used people as teachers who should have been students themselves.
I am trying to create a community of educators, starting with a group of six, who will be committed to the literacy program, perhaps with similar conviction that moved the PRG program. Then we will recruit more and more people as teacher-trainers. There is interest out there in literacy. It is the way to move our country and economy forward. But we will have to rely mostly on volunteers, so little money is offered.
But the source of the problems here is really an attitude, now. That attitude is: "If you have an idea, it needs money to work.' But I say, no, we need not spend lots of money, especially if we can piggy-back our group. Also the idea that we need to look to outsiders and experts for knowledge and initiative. That happened during PRG too, but was less noticeable. The PRG did have "emulations" for working people, they declared farmers heroes. But they called in the Cubans and the Soviets too and said they knew it. All the time, here and now, in contrast, we go to seminars led by people from other countries paid by the thousands who come to tell us what we already know, nothing new. Then we have to worry about boxes of chalk. This comes from the idea that we cannot solve our own problems without outside people and money.
Our system, now and under PRG, contributes to illiteracy. People are not taught to read in school. There is little cooperation between the ministries. The ministers always have emphasized specific standardized tests which held kids back. The fact that kids taking these tests have not had the same texts is a big problem. That kind of thing can be made better through teacher training which would also give teachers a chance to compare experiences.
The PRG leaders were very decent men and women, which made us all raise our levels of treatment of one another, but they always were retreating and calling that an advance.
The PRG did not have time to educate teachers, kids and parents right away. They did not have enough people with them. And many walked away. The leaders could not get close enough to the people, could not keep the ties they had initially, grew distant and made orders. The PRG texts were textbooks and they were also easily undermined by experienced teaches who had their own plans, even when teachers were watched. The CPE program had a lot of volunteers but they did not always stay with the program. I hope our training will offset the use of the texts, which I said I oppose in principle anyway.
The revolution was trying to move up a new group of workers and professionals. Now the current government is making it impossible for most kids to get an education again. The only people getting through soon will be those who can already afford it. It used to be among most people in Grenada that it seemed like there were minor social class differences. Now it is like the United States. Big differences getting worse.
The PRG goal was development, national and economic development. How do you claim to be legitimate otherwise? That is what they promised. They could not do that, could not altogether deliver on what they said but there was a beginning.
I am torn between teaching critical skills and teaching corporate skills. Even the room works against me. And the other teachers want, are used to, direction. They want the room in rows. Usually, I must pick the direction. However, from time to time I do try to turn the world upside down, literally by showing people new ways to look at maps if nothing else. I ask students, and teachers, to participate in the design of the curriculum. I refuse to fill them like vessels.
Teachers have more freedom than they think. I always taught the ways I taught best and never had a problem of any importance. I explained my plans for a classroom and I was always given permission. Maybe I censored myself? No. I used my freedom and expanded on it. When I was a principal, I encouraged my teachers to be creative, inventive.
I know right away where my students come from now, though, almost exactly. the ones who are better prepared are the ones who could afford to make better choices. Their parents can afford the better schools and the books and the calculators. People are separated by inheritance. Then teachers force children's parents to sacrifice to buy textbooks, then assign routine assignments like copying from it. A text book here costs the student $80 E.C. (about 26 dollars U.S.). But teachers cannot do much about this. They are trained as teachers, not organizers.
Pauline, who has not been paid for months, keeps detailed charts on the progress of each of her literacy students, as well as their educators. She shares these charts with the students so they can check on how she is doing.
Waldron shared her M.A.Thesis with me: "An Analysis of Literacy texts
of the Grenadian Literacy Campaign", unpublished and dated September, 1992,
written for the University in Great Britain. I made a copy of this document
and have it in my possession. For the most part, her comments above are
also in the body of the paper. I outline a few important assertions: The
purpose of the (PRG literacy) campaign was social transformation through
development. (p2) The campaign was inspired by Paulo Freire. Waldron, in
the body, asks the question, "Why did Freire, who claims to oppose primers,
help to design a primer?", and leaves it unanswered.(p20) She notes the
primers were written in standard English, while most Grenadians speak something
closer to Grenadian Creole.(23), a contradiction similar to what occurred
with the primers designed by the Cabral government in Guinea-Bissau. She
records the contradiction of a learner based curriculum, and one which
merely assumes, absent analysis, that all the learners and the teacher
have the same interests. The slogan, "The Land Must Produce More" is, according
to Waldron, obviously not aimed at the land, but a call for more work from
agricultural workers who may or may not believe in the commonality of interests
with the government. This assumption, in the primers, is never unpacked.
(p29) She also notes the continued mis-representation of women in the texts.
She criticizes the phonetic approach as being counter to what Freire claims
to believe, ie., learning through reflection. There is no struggle over
meaning and little or no room for student writing. At base, she indicates
this is behaviorism, drill and kill. According to Waldron, the teacher
version textbook hints that people who cannot read cannot think and cannot
act, they cannot understand poverty and they cannot move to alter their
own condition. (p35). Waldron concludes by saying, "Education was a key
pillar of the revolution, as New Jewel said. The greatest weakness was
the use of the textbook." But, ten years later, she is writing her own
textbook, and wondering about the alternatives.
CC and TR agree that the materials developed during the PRG were "mostly non-ideological", that is, they did not challenge thinking that was already prevalent. This was especially true of the science and math sections which were really the focal points of the program. "History and English were rather political but it would have been easy to make a few minor changes and use the texts now. Instead they were thrown out". CC would rather have used the textbooks and explained what was wrong with them. CC and TR agree that the PRG had a focus, education, and that the government's leaders were deeply involved in the process, specially the literacy program which the PRG "recruited Freire to lead". He led in the design of materials and the creation of the program. Then the PRG leaders got behind it and visited schools, encouraged teachers and students--and parents--and led graduation ceremonies. Now there is NO focus, No material. The ministry people only rarely visit and there is only the most haphazard of plans, really no plan at all. GUT struck in the PRG period (which led to laws prohibiting strikes by public workers) about educational issues like the curriculum as well as money, but there is no possibility for that now, "It would be useless", as there are no resources, monetary or human, to draw on. "Besides, it became illegal", according to Raeburn.
CC believes the key thing for teachers to accomplish is to teach kids logic, how to think things through, in addition to reading, writing and math. However, she believes this kind of thinking will have little impact on children because things in Grenada are largely hopeless. Even when kids finish school, there are no jobs. And there are no jobs in the rest of the Caribbean or in the United States which has been the saving stop-gap for generations. Even the possibilities created for Grenadian youth by the Cubans, in medicine for example, are gone. CC sees a major upheaval in the Caribbean in the not too distant future, but the focus of the upheaval, its purpose beyond smashing things as they are, is unclear. TR agrees.
CC and TR concur that the core of the PRG education campaigns, especially the literacy campaign, was to "move the national development in special ways, through the lines of the national economic plan. There was a need for so many doctors, so many teachers, so many fishery experts, and they set out to fill that". Within this, "there was communist ideology" but that was "really just the secondary part to the need for development".
Now, they say, there appears to be no plan at all, except decline organized. The PRG, in contrast, gave people three things: the leadership of PRG was centered and visible and building a base of excitement for the education programs, they had a specific economic plan and people were beginning to recognize how they would fit into that plan and they told people their actions would make a difference, if they gained education and literacy they could, perhaps, move up in society. Now, none of this is true or possible.
If they could, TR and CC would both use the old PRG textbooks in their classrooms. They found very little in the textbooks to disagree with. They attack the current ministers of education as being "time-passers", people just waiting to retire. Indeed, retirement is of interest to CC. She thinks nothing good can come of hard work in Grenada and she is interested in leaving the country for a place where good hard work will not be subverted by incompetence and political jealousies. TR adds that teachers' work, including his, in the schools is not recognized by the ministry. He feels that the ministers, even if they were eager and hardworking, could not make much difference but he resents their lack of attention to the sacrifices that are made daily by teachers trying to struggle on despite difficult circumstances.
TR says that it is clear to him that there is something standing between the goal of school for the purpose of development and school for the purpose of developing a sense of logic in children. And the ideas that were put forward by the PRG, especially about development, are still there, in fact they are national policy in many cases. But that is the only conscious sense of logic that remains and it is not working in peoples' lives, that is, there is no development so people feel apart from the government as it now stands.
CC adds that even the routine literacy projects that any country should have are denied by the current government. In "1987 the government reported to UNESCO that we have 4% illiteracy. That was stupid and not true. It was stupid because UNESCO's cut-off point for funding literacy projects is 5%. That meant the funds went to Latin America. And the report was not true, not even close. In 1989, I did a study of the number of people who voted with an "X" for their name rather than a signature. That number was 20%. The government did this for propaganda reasons, and to please the U.S."
CC believes Grenada should continue on the road the PRG leaders began,
that is, to follow the lead of Taiwan to use education to develop a high-tech
economic base. She sees little hope for that since the current government
leadership is worthless. CC says now the key issues for teachers are pay,
class size and the curriculum, especially the complete lack of books. CC
and TR agree that the dominant attitude toward the future of Grenada is
despair, because national economic development is failing.
Alistair Hughes is a well-known Grenadian journalist. He was jailed for eight days during the PRG for founding the "Grenada Voice" which the NJM leadership claimed was a product of the CIA. The paper, which continued for more than a decade, shut itself down in May, 1994, due to the death of Hughes wife who was an important part of the production process, and to declining subscriptions. Hughes is white, a lifetime resident of Grenada, and was educated in Grenadian schools. He is the brother of Frank Hughes, footnoted above.
AH says the traditional crops of Grenada, spices and bananas, have no future. Cocoa is doing alright but nutmeg is in a very bad state. A deal Grenada had with Indonesia, to mutually prop up nutmeg and spice prices, was subverted by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund which gave Indonesia loans based on the refutation of the Grenadian arrangement. Tourism is levelling off, though the focus of the Grenadian tourism project is to gather high paying tourists, not people who want to come to a bargain paradise. There is controversy on the island now about the possibility of a low-cost Club-Med operation opening in 1995. AH states that the PRG program hardly really belongs to the PRG. It was initiated by Eric Gairy who had the vision to foresee the need for high-tech development for the economy two years before the PRG seized power. He says the PRG merely implemented the Gairy plan with socialist touches. They, "had a little box in the economy for every person and wanted to put everyone in one of them." In addition, Hughes, who is routinely quoted and interviewed by the American press when it visits Grenada, says the PRG did not introduce free health care. Care was always free to people who indicated a need to a local doctor. He says Grenada is simply the kind of country where people care for one another.
Hughes insists there was no difference between Bishop and Coard. Bishop was not prepared to go as fast as Coard. Bishop was the speech-maker, Coard the thinker and real actor. He contends this was merely a falling out among thieves. They both had one thing in mind, "national socialism and you know what that means and where it comes from." People have many memories of the PRG and some people think their programs were good, but, "we must remember that their programs had really nothing new in them, except the government actions that they controlled."
Hughes now writes occasionally for ABC news and does publicity for the
U.S.-based medical school on the island. He closed the interview by encouraging
people to come to Grenada and urging that U.S. universities look to Grenada
for setting up distance education programs.
George Sandifor is the principal of a private school, Santa Rosa, an aging one-room school house about 15 yards wide and 30 long. The wooden plank floor is uninterrupted by walls. Desks are arranged facing six different large blackboards. There are 65 students in the school, down from 100 three years ago. These kids face five teachers and the principal, a class-size ration that must be part of the basis for parents willingness to pay additional tuition to Santa Rosa. I interviewed GS with Desmond Latouche who has known GS for his entire career. GS has worked as an educator all of his life, and worked on the CPE at its earliest stages. He was only involved in the creation of the textbooks "late in the game. I came to some sessions but felt unwelcome and left", but he states he was aware of Freire by reputation and knew of Freire's leadership of the literacy project. GS claims his parish, St. Paul's, was the only area where there was steady attention to high education standards during the PRG period, and regularly high attendance in the adult literacy programs. He attributes this to the efforts of the teachers in the group, which he says included Desmond Latouche and George Brizan (historian of Grenada). This trio, and others, shifted the emphasis of the program, "we stripped out the isms", and let people explore topics and methods on their own. GS acknowledges that this group was unusual, somewhat isolated from the mainstream teachers. "We didn't ram the PRG doctrine down their throats. Besides, the doctrine was ok if the rhetoric was left out". To GS, this meant that the lessons were acceptable when they focused on peoples' participation in national development. He says development is also, or should be, the goal of democratic capitalist regimes. Elsewhere, there was initially a big outpouring of interest in the adult and educational programs, then interest vanished and people left. The young people who were leading the sessions were rude to the older people and called them stupid when they asked wrong questions. "It was clear to everyone that some questions could not be asked, like: Who gains from all of this?" GS claims that the PRG set up groups like the Cuban Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR's are a subject of intense debate among experts on Cuba. Some see CDR's as necessary methods to prevent CIA attacks which also insure the medical and social care of each neighborhood; others see CDR as the community base of Cuban intelligence. My experience from a total of about 10 months in Cuba is that the CDR's probably do make regular reports to intelligence, but they rarely actually silence anyone). The internal intelligence reports, according to GS, were used to fire and discipline teachers, but teachers with a good following were untouched.
GS noted his sense of the irony of the education programs created by the PRG. "They did put forward some good projects in the schools about national consciousness and work. They told people they could act. But they did not want people to think things through. So that kind of political consciousness served to destroy them. They arrested Bishop, the people freed him, only to get the U.S. and now look how things are". GS sees this irony continuing. People's expectations were raised, then dashed, "Now all people see is hopelessness. They were told the intelligencia of the PRG could do things for them. When that died, hope died."
GS and DL spoke together in describing their interpretation of the PRG's
plans for the period of 1983 to 1988. They believe the PRG planned to expand
the NISTEP and adult education programs and, at the same time, to force
teachers to more and more stick closely to the topics which they call "isms";
that is, socialism, communism, Marxism. Both agree that this plan was coming
into effect as the invasion took place. They feel that while the PRG was
in its early stages, it had limited avenues of control, but as time progressed,
two things happened, the PRG got more isolated and it got more anxious
to have control over the people who were doing the teaching. This then
made many of the teachers even more disaffected and they left the program
rather than be subjected to what they perceived as harassment from people
filing intelligence reports.
GSL was the owner of the Hotel I stayed in while in Grenada. The Hotel Amanda sits about three-quarters of the way up a steep hill eventually leading to the Richmond prison and overlooking the St. George's Harbor. The Hotel has less than a dozen rooms, employs only GSL and three workers. Immediately in front of the Amanda is a water hook-up where, about eighteen hours a day, water trucks wait in line to fill and deliver water throughout the island. The truck drivers and their helpers gather in the shade of trees and "lime" (hang out) for hours as one truck fills after the next. There are generations of water truck drivers here. I met one grandfather/grandson team.
GSL was the tourism and interest section representative of the PRG in Montreal from 1980 to 1983. He could not return to the country until 1985. GSL says the only organized remnant of PRG consciousness is within the MBNP (see Terry Marryshow interview above). GSL considers himself a MBNP member and ran as such in the last electoral contest. He states that in the beginning, "NJM was a party of the disaffected bourgeoisie, its leadership. many members were there because they felt they could gain a foothold in the economy." He points to Kenneth Raddix as one of these individuals. (Raddix disaffiliated from the PRG shortly before the invasion, was not prosecuted and ran for public office in the post invasion elections--and lost). St. Louis says the NJM never had a mass base, but had fours years to develop one and failed. There was not mass base at the outset because the revolution was so brief, twenty-four hours. Over time, it became clear that NJM "had bourgeois goals and people who may have been attracted from economic reasons drew away. In addition, people here are backward. We were unable to educate them. They are undisciplined. Troops wouldn't stay at their posts. The Central Committee had to round up its members for meetings at gunpoint. They wandered off to their women at every chance". The NJM promised better lives, better jobs, higher incomes, and even with the military recruiting that was not possible. Many promises were kept but the main promises were impossible to keep. Then, "when the invasion came, that was proof the party and its ideas had no real base, only promises for a better life which was not immediately achieved, so the people listened to someone else's promises about a better life. Once Maurice was dead, it was over."
GSL believes that the Coard group will soon wither be granted amnesty of released because of procedural violations in their trial. He thinks most Grenadians, now, would prefer to see the group freed--and leave the island. GSL believes it is possible for employers and employees to live in harmony, through dialogue, as is his perception of the running of his Hotel Amanda.
GSL remembers the debates about the CPE and the education programs developed
by Freire under the PRG quite well. He states that Freire was recruited
because the leadership, especially Creft, felt there was a true parallel
of interest and ideology between Freire and New Jewel. While he did not
attend literacy sessions, he says that Creft and Freire were the key people
behind the development of the programs, though he also mentions Didacus
Jules as an important leader. He believes the NJM wrote textbooks because
it could not trust the teaching force. He says the teachers were untrained
and "didn't know what they were doing". Many of them were only slightly
ahead of the children and did not understand the PRG position on important
issues. So the textbooks were written to take that discussion out of the
hands of the teachers. This meant that the teachers didn't need to understand
the issues and could pass the appropriate messages along to the children.
"the consciousness in those textbooks shouldn't have been an affront to
the United States. It was bourgeois consciousness, nation building. We
never really got farther than that, but we wanted to".
LJ has been the Director for more than five years. His office, in downtown St. George, is under construction and hearing him is difficult, the noise of repair crews often drowning out our exchange.
LJ sees the key problem in education as money. People have to pay for their kids' education, textbooks, and materials. Nearly everyone has to teach and be involved in fund raising at the same time, especially principals. The U.S. never assisted in any serious way to provide educational materials. There is some money, in the most needy cases, for uniforms, but very little. Some private companies, like Grentel (the phone company) have helped but they cannot provide what is needed. Even so, he believes the schools have improved over the last ten years. The European Economic Community is preparing to sponsor a teacher-training initiative. He indicates his teaching force desperately needs training, especially those at the secondary level. He is concerned about the facilities, a concern which is ratified by my visits. "Our schools are falling apart. One school has been in a collapsed church. We have a lot of wretched facilities. Many of the Roman Catholic schools are in good shape, but the church here owns a terrific amount of property". He suggests it is interesting that this church property never came under attack under the PRG, as did Gairy's properties, which were seized, as well as the properties of other large land holders and companies. (Following the invasion, newly established Grenadian courts returned all confiscated properties to their former owners). Even the top government facilities, like LJ's office, are collapsing. Jones is now in a building that went unrepaired, despite employee complaints, until the roof collapsed. The bathrooms don't work. It takes two hours to pay a phone bill. The government doesn't insure its properties. Two adjacent buildings burned less than a year ago and the property inside was simply lost. "We now have seven schools that we know about that have asbestos roofs and ceilings. From those schools, two people have died of lung cancer". The U.S. division of "A.I.D. cut its funding so we cannot do the necessary work". Mr. Jones applied for $80 million in EEC grants, "really a bare bones proposal for construction, not a school broadcast unit or anything expansive. But it was denied". Vandals constantly ransack the schools. "We have vibrant schools for agriculture, liked to the land, but without fences we cannot protect the crops from night raids".
"Our educators need training". LJ is interested in training principals in particular, so they can train others. "We have nobody in testing and measurement, nobody in curriculum, nobody in research. I came here from the Bahamas ten years ago and could not believe what was going on.Yet the kids are set up to hold back kids who cannot pass tests for which they cannot be prepared". The Caribbean entrance exams are "written from specific textbooks, for exact skills, and we do not have the texts. And the teachers do not know how to design tests. And because we have lost funding, we are facing a staff reduction program."
When kids do graduate, "they can work at hotels. We try to encourage people to be self-employed. It is a difficult world, what with NAFTA (North America Free Trade Agreement), competing with overseas producers. The value of our crops has collapsed. So we are prioritizing". Education is important but there is a small cake to cut. "If you want to talk about jobs, you have to talk about world production, world economics, then national economics and development. After all, at the end of the day, our key is business tourism. We must train people to be nice, not to demand things, nor to plead, but to sell things". Grenada, according to Jones, does not have the technological base for sophisticated production and, "what sense can it make to urge massive capital investment for an economy, technologically based, which would provide, by definition, very few jobs?"
"I was a friend of Jacqueline Creft's". Jones knew Freire had come to the island to join with Creft provide leadership to the literacy projects under NJM and knows people who participated in the program. He locates key leadership in the literacy programs with Creft and Freire. The PRG period was heady but that government could never believe it was losing support. For people so involved in education, theoretically in daily contact with the people, they really had no idea what was going on around them". In the PRG education system, "everything went one way, even though they tried to disguise it as shared knowledge. At the end, they simply had no people with them. even when they could have won, they refused to hold elections. The Bishop gang kept poor records and had no open budget. They did that to try to hide things from the Americans".(580)
"The problem the PRG identified, untrained teachers, is the same problem we have now. We do not have the teachers to do the training the efforts toward development demand. That is why one writes textbooks, is it not?"
"Our supervising staff is much better than the PRG's, we pay somewhat better. Those are the key differences."
LJ showed me a chart of teacher salaries. After eight years of experience, an accredited college graduate teacher, working full time, will make $19,656 EC. The current U.S./EC exchange rate is: now $1.00 U.S = $2.60 EC.
I asked LJ how people could afford to teach.
"They cannot. They leave. This is a very bad situation, as you can see".
Desmond Latouche and his colleague and secretary, Angela James, were the primary contacts I had in Grenada. Both were extraordinarily helpful and ready with information. Both sacrificed to make my research possible, for no personal gain. DL was on vacation when I arrived. He cancelled his vacation to make my investigations possible. Other than the two interviews that follow, I have paraphrased the informant's comments from a single interview. With Latouche, I have summarized and paraphrased, not from a single interview, but from my notes from many interviews. The day before my departure, I raised with DL the possibility that he might want to come to the U.S. to work on a Ph.D. at Penn State. He asked me to follow up on that possibility with information. At this writing, PSU is opening discussions with DL on that point.
DL became the Director of the Adult Education Program after the invasion. He had been a teacher under the PRG and worked with Freire on the initial stages of the literacy campaigns. He most emphatically was not a supporter of PRG politics. DL is deeply religious, attends church at least two or three times a week and spends much of his free time proselytizing for the Lord. DL notes that Coard and Austin were heavily involved in the beginnings of the PRG literacy campaign, and now have the opportunity to continue their work--in prison. He believes, like many others, that the imprisoned former PRG leaders will be given clemency. He says there is a good deal of sympathy for the prisoners which has grown as their sentences have been applied over the years.
DL sees adult eduction as an integral part of the program for the nation to develop its human resources, a chain in the link of toward economic development. DL is frustrated by Grenadian bureaucrats who fail to see the human potential on the island, a potential he agrees the NJM began to tap. Moreover, he feels held back by the lack of facilities. Both the PRG and the current government were trying to use education to create an employable base of people, but his students in vo-tech are learning to use office machines that have been obsolete for years, broken down Olivetti typewriters, ditto machines, Gestetners, etc. They are learning dictation when they should be learning transcription. Similar problems hamstrung the PRG.
Agreeing with Sandifor above, DL says he taught his own way under the PRG. He believes the materials were chosen to fit the immediate needs of the PRG. They did not rise from the grassroots, though the Freire model pretends otherwise. As Raeburn and Charles noted, DL believes the PRG ministers did develop excitement about education and the attention they gave to the programs was a positive effort. But the programs themselves were doctrinaire. Even so, a few of the more resourceful individual teachers were able to use the interest in education created by the PRG leadership to carry on their own efforts to build literacy and educate the citizens. He sees the consciousness sought by the PRG as nationalist, all-Caribbean, and socialist. He indicates no problem with the first two, says the latter was sometimes modified by teachers who went their own way. He feels most teachers agreed with the PRG goal of national economic development but that the processes the PRG used were illegitimate.
DL believes the consciousness the PRG attempted to instill in the Grenadian people was the "promise of better jobs, a better economy, and hope for the future" rooted in the possibilities for creating a different economic approach, that is, to "build national industries like the fisheries and the new hotels which were planned, to finish the airport and gain tourism, to create a work force that could support technological development."
Wherever DL goes, people know him and greet him. We traveled through
town with frequent stops to discuss the family health of passers-by. We
visited the homes of very poor people, and very wealthy people by Grenadian
standards. DL was welcomed everywhere. We traveled together with Clarissa
Charles to visit Mr C. Jones, the former Director of Education under Paul
Scoon, the governor who took power immediately after the invasion. On that
long trip, the length of the island, the three of us had considerable time
o discuss the state of education in Grenada. Later on, Mr Jones joined
that discussion. These are three respected leaders with remarkable differences
and similarities in opinion. DL and CC believe the illiteracy rate in Grenada
is well over 25%. Jones believes it is around 3 to 4% DL and CC argue the
ministry bureaucrats are incompetent and that the bureaucracy, at least,
was more responsive under the PRG, which highlighted education. Mr. Jones
does not agree. Though there are problems, things are much better than
years ago, especially better than under the PRG. All agree that the programs
and goals of the PRG were valuable and, with some changes, could and should
be continued today.
This is a paraphrased transcription from a taped interview. Angela James is the colleague of and secretary to Desmond Latouche, and a part-time teacher at the college. She teaches skills training in secretarial work and prepares students for the Caribbean exam which determines who moves ahead to secondary school and college. Angela (as she prefers) has taught for the College for three years, worked as a secretary for four and one half years. She attended Catholic private schools in Grenada and was taught mostly by nuns. She was a teacher during the PRG period and was involved in the development of PRG materials with the groups led by Paulo Freire. She attended Freire-led sessions on literacy and feels she adopted most of the PRG style of education as her own. Angela says the difference between the PRG period and today lies mostly in the fact that the PRG had a plan, now there appears to be no plan and no leadership.
She believes the CPE materials were good because they pointed learners in the proper directions and there were teachers manuals that let "you know how to go through the classes". The students did not see the teachers manuals. To use the textbooks and manuals, the teachers, most of them, never had much formal training. "At my rural center, there was little training. The center supervisor just asked me to help out. I was about 25 then and had completed secondary school as well as secretarial training." She also had training in Spanish and had traveled to the U.S., New York and Boston.
From 1979 to 1983, people were very conscious of education, they "almost HAD to go to evening classes. People would go out and get people involved. Now that does not happen. Almost every village had adult education classes. People know they needed to be educated and there was no making fun of people who couldn't read or write. Now there is no structure in place and people are silenced."
"People during the PRG period actively promoted literacy and adult education, so did the non-governmental organizations like the unions and all of the PRG leaders. Even in elementary schools people were actively involved. I know a gentleman who was not able to read and write and he learned during the period of PRG. That changed his life. He got a job. But he has no work now."
There are few teachers carrying on like they did during the PRG period but they are all trying to find their own way. In order to teach now you really have to teach to the syllabus because you are teaching to the exam. They need to know the definitions of words for the Caribbean exam.
Most of the people in night classes that AJ teaches are government employees, all women, who are trying to pass exams in order to move up in the government service. They have to pay 90 dollars EC to take the class as well as pay for the exam.
AJ sees no difference in the form of pedagogy from the PRG period to now. "They were teaching to an exam and we are teaching to an exam too. They had a textbook. We have a textbook. That textbook was free and materials were provided under the PRG and that is not true now. The PRG material was ideological. The current material is ideological. The lack of material is ideological."
AJ does not want to be a secretary much longer and wants to return to school to be a counselor.
Asked to describe an ideal society, or the one posed to her by the PRG, AJ describes a society without unemployment, without drugs or crime or unwanted teenage pregnancies but with wide pay scales which would give incentives. "People should be rewarded. But people should not be allowed to inherit their social positions." People should only be allowed to get wage differentials through merit. The way to make sure an aristocracy is not created is to give everyone a fair chance in school. But all people really should expect is a job. Hard work should be the key to advancement.
AJ has several women in her night classes who are practicing teachers, taking classes to get the skills to be secretaries for the government. "Most people do not like to teach now. There is not much money and much work. It is frustrating and boring and appears to have no reason. And for some secretaries there is more money than for teachers."
AJ feels the PRG curriculum was "pretty good. I would not change that, and I would take the same outreach approach. I would make the syllabus a little different. The subject materials might be a little different but the form of teaching would be that as it was. I would use the same kinds of exams to discover what people have completed." When people finished a curriculum which she describes as ideal, "they would be pretty good employees. They would be able to answer the questions, take direction, and know the functions of the office and see how they could help".
What is left from the PRG? "The airport. Without the PRG that would have never been realized. The adult education classes would not have existed without them. That's about it. The textbooks are gone, probably burned up. Nobody is trying to do anything. Nobody puts the country first. They are just trying to make a name for themselves. Then people were hopeful. They had dreams and there was something to look forward to, now the dreams are all dashed. There is nothing. The MBNP will not draw the people and they will not be a full electoral party. They will take a long time to come of age. People do not trust the politicians here, including the MBNP now. The politicians come around before elections. Then the people do not see them for five years and they come around and make promises again. The people who were involved in the PRG have just gone back to the old ways. The PRG did not change the men and the women always had to take the charge of kids, for example, so there was not a change in that at all, anytime. They do not know how to form the new structure to change things."
This is the only instance that I use a pseudonym. This young man (29) asked that his name be withheld because he feared recriminations. He offered the name above as a substitute, saying he uses this name quite a bit anyway. I interviewed RB for 45 minutes on Saturday afternoon outside a classroom in Northern Grenada. RB was there, with a dozen other students, to study drafting. Roderick was joined by three other young men during the interview. They added their comments as he went along and seemed in substantial agreement with him.
RB was a student in the adult education classes designed by Paulo Freire, although he had never heard of Freire, nor had his colleagues. They identified the key leaders of the adult education programs as Jacqueline Creft and Maurice Bishop. The classes were conducted by local teachers who were trained by the PRG. While he claims he could read when the classes began, he could not read well, never read for any reason but to gain information immediately necessary, like reading signs, and took no enjoyment in reading. He never entered secondary school and had usually earned his living by fishing and working in construction. RB says the classes were initially, "very exciting. We talked about everything--Gairy, the chance for jobs, everything. We made up our own course at first."
There were usually about 30 people in the classes he attended, at the beginning. Then the class attendance began to dwindle. "We had to begin to be more on the job. At the end of the day we had to get more done and we had to work through this workbook so there was less time to socialize and many of the people just went away. They (PRG teachers) had to move along, and I think they might have been right, except many people left."
RB has no complaints about the workbook. He sees it as having been a necessary tool that would reach the results that the PRG sought--and with which he agrees. The workbook directed people into the specific task of reading which, in the beginning, seemed to him to be secondary to the socializing in class and the discussions "about what we should read. At first there wasn't anything to read so we had to make it up or choose different things, so nobody was doing the same thing at once. Then we got some new teachers and the workbooks".
RB believes the new teachers, "did a pretty good job. They had more background, you know, and at the end of the day they were probably better prepared". He says they were also people from his community and he does not believe the original instructors were dismissed, but simply displaced by people who had more training.
RB says that there were PRG people in the class but that he felt there was nothing especially unusual about their attendance. They were there to learn and teach, and they were his neighbors, so he saw them, not as people investigating, but as comrades taking the class, or leading it, for largely the same reason he was attending.
RB says the purpose of the class was to enable people to read better so, "they could get better jobs, work better on the jobs we had, maybe become teachers ourselves. I liked some of the workbook but it was better when we were making our own readings. Then we talked about our own jobs."
RB and his colleagues agreed that the classes were "political, socialist", but when asked what exactly socialism is, the group equated New Jewel and socialist practice. They differed on what socialism meant inside New Jewel. "Maurice Bishop spoke for the people. The program was education and to push up the economy. They did things like the airport and free medicine." They were unclear on any other content of his, Bishop's, speech. They stated that New Jewel was in the process of building an education system, and literacy classes, "so people could get work, good work, and do good work. And then we could buy more things, maybe even have better homes". RB concluded that his reading did improve because of the classes he attended and that, for awhile, he read books, "like I really tried to ready Moby Dick, but it was long." Now, he no longer reads other than for the Saturday classes. His drafting manual, which he produces for me, is complex. Indeed, the drawings are beyond my understanding.
RB had hoped to be employed as a construction worker, perhaps a foreman, under New Jewel and expected that the classes he took would lead to full-time employment. However he was unable to find steady work and did not want to join the military (which he avoided) so RB continued to work intermittently. as he does today. RB believes, even though New Jewel was unable to employ him, that the programs New Jewel backed were important. "They had good ideas and great leaders, especially Bishop". He did not approve of the Coard coup, but did not support the U.S. invasion, at least in retrospect. "the U.S. came in when it was all turmoil and said things would get much better. But things got worse."
No one in this group of young men has a full-time job. Each hopes that the classes now in session will lead to skills which will, in turn, form the basis of more steady employment. But each of the young men believes this prospect is unlikely. None of the young men believes he could become like Bishop. "No, Bishop, he was special, and he went to very good schools. He was a lawyer, you know. All of the New Jewel people were very smart. Only a few could join. But he was political and no one wants to hear political stuff anymore."
All of the young men admitted that they have children, though none of them live with the children or the children's mothers. They concede that they pay only marginal, and occasional, support, but note that there is little to divide. None of the young men believe their children's lives will be better than theirs. In fact, they project life in the Caribbean will be progressively worse. They predict, "no jobs, bad schools, maybe much conflict", but conflict toward no end that they could define. "We are just angry, again".
While I believe the people involved in these interviews spoke eloquently for themselves, I want to make a few interpretive comments, not to add to what they have said but to show the commonalities of categories that may already be obvious to the reader.
First, the is a good deal of evidence of Freire's involvement in the NJM literacy campaign, and that the campaign included the elements of Freire's formula of literacy, consciousness, production and liberation. Freire is identified as a leader by Coard, Miss Francis, Waldron, Sandifor, St Louis, Jones, Latouche and Angela James. In addition, Freire locates himself in Grenada in a leadership position and praises the Minister of Education who was, at the time, Jacqueline Creft. Moreover, every person I interviewed spoke of the importance New Jewel gave to education and often used in the initial terms, such as "education was a key pillar of the revolution" (Waldron, and initiated in the pamphlet "Grenada is not Alone") set forward by New Jewel and Freire. Only Pauline Waldron began to question the split of education for production and critical consciousness. The other respondents, from Marryshow to James, accepted the equation. Coard made those terms, and the equation, quite clear. In his mind, education and literacy programs are for the purpose of building the national economy. This is largely equivalent to the kind of consciousness the NJM leadership, according to Coard and St. Louis, wanted to create, a good fishery employee becomes a critically conscious employee, not because fishery workers are dullards working for the PRG's hidden agenda, but because those people are part of the "constant capital" which will create the productive forces which will someday make social justice possible. This was Coard's view. But only parts of it translated to the masses of people. Coard was aware of the goal of linking justice, equality and democracy. But production was to come first and foremost. Everyone, to a person, right wing to left, agreed on the primacy of national economic development. But the sense of development as a transition to a more just society did not necessarily translate into the popular consciousness. Others, including Angela James--whose altruism cannot be denied in her willingness to sacrifice time and effort to make my investigations possible--bought the idea of development, but actually opposed the idea of equality, even in a perfect world designed in her mind. Waldron did begin to take this apart. She saw a real directiveness in the textbooks--an inversion of her beliefs about effective pedagogy--though she did not necessarily translate this vertical relationship to the leadership of New Jewel and the masses of people.
Secondly, in the education projects, the NJM was never able, and apparently never sought, to make the passage from the people to leadership an easy one. In other words, the kind of consciousness that was created was a consciousness which did not see itself as leadership, or even as potential leadership. Nor were people unraveling the ideology that Bishop represented. Instead, Bishop is iconicized and it appears a more sophisticated employee mentality was fashioned. People not in the leadership of New Jewel at the outset, like Roderick Broward, did not see themselves as in charge of the political system. They saw themselves as people who had, or might have, better jobs--because they learned to read, or learned to read better--because they had good leaders. People did not even themselves as changing social classes, just moving up a bit in the one in which they were born. Even the current leadership of the Maurice Bishop Party, Marryshow, speaks of Bishop in iconicized terms, solely as an extraordinary man, rather than seeing Bishop as an exceptional person but also a product of his times. Marryshow also signals the potential of elitism in New Jewel when he discusses the social origins of leaders in Grenada. So, on the one hand, the unity of the NJM leadership and the mass of Grenadian people was primarily vertical, top down, and on the other hand, the kind of consciousness that the literacy programs contributed to was a mechanical notion of intensified national development. Indeed, only traces of class consciousness can be found in the people I interviewed. Even Coard praises the patriotism of the current Grenadian leadership, indicating the predominance of nationalism in this thinking. The people adopted, to one degree or another, the nationalism promoted by New Jewel. Even the current Maurice Bishop Party members look backward to old leaders and acknowledge that there is no critical leadership of any serious consequence, that can exert individual or organizational power according to Marryshow, on the island now.
New Jewel's reach into the popular consciousness is remarkable. Through the persistent efforts of key leaders, New Jewel did succeed in making its ideology a part of the discourse of the Grenadian people. Among those interviewed, none had any complaints about the need for the New Jewel programs (the airport, medical care, literacy and adult programs), although LaTouche and Sandifor identified problems with the political content of the programs, and most were able to describe the ideology and practices that propelled the New Jewel leadership. Problems between New Jewel and the people lie less in its identification of the need for programs than the method and substance of their implementation--which had political sources in New Jewel's notion of socialism. There is an interesting overlap from all quarters, like the spectrum of Coard to Sandifor, which sees the primary goal of any political project, either defined as socialist or democratic-capitalist, as economic development for the nation.
There is modest evidence, expressed by teachers like Waldron and students like Broward, that people improved their reading skills, but no evidence of the survival of critical consciousness, no appearances of efforts to unpack the reasons that lie behind the state of things in Grenada or any sense of hope that they can be changed in ways other than replacing one privileged group with another. Even though there was resistance, from subverting the Marryshow readers to walking away from literacy projects to abandoning military posts, it remains that none of the acts of resistance were able to transcend the view that there is another way to liberation beyond the most immediate, economist, sense of national economic development. Indeed, nearly all of the evidence of resistance in my possession--other than the early little Kronstadt which was crushed--indicates that the resistance came from the right, from people opposed even to the long term goals of New Jewel. A veritable notion of consumerism, buttressed and then created by New Jewel, set the terms of freedom. New Jewel, then, enveloped the notion of resistance and appears to have successfully limited the definition and practice of socialist or democratic activity within its own boundaries.
Even after a decade of U.S. psychological operations, the people of Grenada still, for the most part, support the programs that New Jewel put forward. There is a belief that a higher stage of human decency, described by Waldron, was reached during the PRG period in Grenada. Many people look back to the PRG fondly, with the idea that during that period there was more opportunity for them to advance their lives. Few, though, note that this opportunity was something of their own making--or ever could be. There is even a good deal of citizen sympathy for the group in Richmond Hill prison.
But no one believes the future is bright--or even especially worth dissecting
beyond the possibility for emigration. The sense that anyone can take charge
of their own life, either in work or in politics, is narrowly circumscribed
by the boundaries, now the perimeters of cynicism, hopelessness, that New
Jewel, with Freire's assistance, created.
As I began, I indicated that Paulo Freire has been reified, that he has not been given sufficient consideration by those who seem to admire him most, many of them people who seek to promote his critical paradigm. This makes it impossible to build on what Freire has done and denies educators and agents of social change the possibility of a profound understanding of his thinking. I then examined Freire's ideas and work in historical, textual, and practical ways. In doing so, I described Freire's strengths, some of which are proclaimed by his many admirers and some of which are unnoticed. In addition, I focused on Freire's weaknesses, and alluded to what I believe is their source; idealism, the separation of ideas and the material world and the view that ideology stands beyond and above social practice. I followed the idealist path back to Hegel and Christianity. Secondarily, I investigated the roots of the mechanically materialist approach Freire often takes, that is, the belief that change for social justice occurs through the development of fundamentally capitalist forms of production, and demonstrated where this path leads through the results of the upheaval in Grenada. Within this project, I have exhibited the partisan nature of Freire's truly Promethean linkage of literacy, consciousness, liberation and production. I have shown that some people, if not vast numbers, learned to read in Freire's literacy projects, but their reading of the world is constricted by Freire's political vision, which necessarily lies at the base of his reading programs. I found Freire's vision of liberatory education limited in that it posits a very traditional sense of social change and renewed critical consciousness. I was unable to find evidence of a worker from my study of the Freireian project who has, in Lenin's words about a higher stage of consciousness:
"a clear picture in mind of the economic nature and the social and political features of the landlord, of the priest, of the high state official and the peasant, of the student and of the tramp, their strong and weak sides; all the catchwords and sophisms by which each class and each stratum camouflages its egotistical strivings and its real nature; understands what interests certain institutions and certain laws reflect and how they are reflected".
Nor did I find people sufficiently empowered to consider themselves capable of governing, or envisioning more than Angela James' idea of utopia, ie., a better job, more goods, less crime. To the contrary, rather than a spiraling evolution of intensified critique, an ever increasing form of sophistication, for the most part I found people like Roderick Broward reiterating, even if unconsciously, what their leaders told them. I did not find people risking to ask new questions. I did not find the teachers from the literacy project, or students, or the leaders that put it into place discovering, in Freire's terms, "the living dynamic relations between the word and action, between word, action and reflection".(581) I found them repeating old answers that came, at least in part, through their roles in literacy programs that Freire designed. The evidence indicates that Freire's method does not contain the basis for an indivisible link between leaders and the masses, and may not contain the fundamental linkage which would transcend the notable material interests between many teachers and their students.
I traced Freire's own middle class origins and alluded to the potential of what Lenin called "petit bourgeois revolutionism" that lies within Freire's work, that is, the twinning of sectarianism (reliance, above all, on the theory of productive forces) and opportunism (a benevolent ideology as the mediator of continued class inequality)--which derives from idealism.(582) The vacillation between these poles, an attribute Lenin traces to the hopes and fears of the middle class torn between an alliance with existing elites and the rising working class, is what characterizes a key thread of Freire's efforts toward literacy, consciousness, and political change.(583) This is not to say that no one can escape their class lineage. For many people today, in a collapsing world economy, their class at birth may be their highest class attainment. They may never actually live up to their class origins. But, for Freire, it is at least true that he has supported violent revolutions only when he was not involved in the government, or not there. Freire was born into a middle-class family and has lived, at least, a middle class life, more often in the first world than the third, working in managerial leadership positions for bourgeois institutions. I agree with Regis Debray's argument that strains of bourgeois thinking are likely to appear. I do not, though, believe that Freire's frequently middle-class vision betrays the possibilities that are within his work.(584)
I have also pointed to the rising academic publishing market around Freire, a market on which careers are now based and may be the footing for reluctance to critique the historical, practical and theoretical legacy that Freire has fashioned. This market includes post-modernists like Lankshear and Christian theorists like Ellis, educators like Giroux, and organizers like the late Myles Horton; all of whom debate the interior ideas of Freire, but rarely seem to look beneath or beyond, a project which Freire's own ideas of critique would support.
Marx presaged this kind of activity when, discussing the debates of the Young Hegelians, he warned of "..the industrialists of philosophy, who til then had lived on the exploitation of the absolute spirit, now seized on new combinations. Each with all possible zeal now set about retailing his apportioned share. This gave rise to competition, which, to start with, was carried on in moderately staid bourgeois fashion."(585)
This market has neither allowed the best of what I think Freire offers to be critically analyzed, nor been rigorous with his inconsistencies, which he is quite willing to tolerate. Perhaps more on point, Lenin suggests, in Materialism and Empiro-Criticism, that those who insist on the primacy of mind over matter are likely to wind up being sure of nothing but their own minds, which might lend an explanation to the rather frantic individualist promotion that goes on among the marketeers. Indeed, it appears to me that the benefactors of this market are far more certain about the efficacy of Freire's politics and methods than Freire himself.(586)
I also indicated that the material goal of equality may unite the breach between ideology and materiality that rises in Freire but has historical roots in early Marxism. This, I believe, can give a new centrifugal point to the base work which Freire has bequeathed as a strategic legacy.
In this section I will concentrate on Freire's interior strengths: his theoretical work on the role of ideology, leadership, practice, and dialogue.
Ideology is central to Freire's sense of praxis. As I have said, for Freire ideology in its loftiest sense ultimately stands beyond practice. Yet Freire is clear that it is through the human construction of ideology driving social practice, through the critically conscious participation of masses of people in their own liberation, that what he calls dehumanization, and what I would prefer to call exploitation, can come to an end.(587)
Ideology is what necessarily lies at the base of critical consciousness--and the partisan role Freire assigns to literacy and education. In their initial conception of ideology and consciousness, Marx and Engels saw primarily the negative notion of false consciousness portrayed above in Chapter Four, the inability to strip back the veils of power or understand the sources of the contradictions of daily life. Later, as the vision of historical materialism deepened, they envisioned ideology also as a weapon of class struggle. Lenin and Lukacs honed this position farther still, arguing that ideology is the politically conscious expression of class positions, at war.(588)
Freire sweeps through this with a far more positive conception of ideology and consciousness. For Freire, consciousness is not only anti-authoritarian but also, a "rediscovery of power", in which social movements are irrevocably tied to a constituency through a "critical understanding of what is possible historically, which is something that no one determines by decree".(589) The new society is created through the reflective activity of people engaged in struggling for control of their own lives, or, more pointedly, culture. Within one of the key purveyors of ideology, the education system, in a period of progressive social change, "the popular classes in power must not only be listened to as they demand education for their sons and daughters, but they must also participate actively alongside professional educators in the reconstruction of education".(590) Thus Freire physically links the development of ideology and the solidarity of people shaping a new social order. But he is never able to reach into the possibility that these people, whose collective consciousness is to be united, must have, materially, fundamentally common interests.
Ideology, translated into truly critical consciousness, then becomes pivotal in avoiding the historical errors of the past and noticing the potential errors--and conceptualizing the utopias--of the future. Perhaps, for Freire, this is the kind of thinking that is impenetrable, "a permanently critical attitude" unsullied by myths and magical thinking.(591) Impenetrability is not possible if theory necessarily trails practice. Even at our best, we are always somewhat fooled. However, false consciousness, at least as Engels viewed it as being unable to decipher "the real motive forces impelling" people and history", can surely be minimized.(592) Freire is clear that the way people are reached with an intelligible standard for social change is through leaders who work dialogically.(593) On the one hand, leaders in the struggle against oppression must be armed with a sense of the harmony of the interests of humanity as a whole. They also must understand the oppression that silences vast segments of the population. On the other hand, leaders must become one with the people through class suicide or Easter experiences. While Freire repeatedly proposes a form of education that is with, not for, the students, he is never able to reach beyond the sense of missionary sacrifice, whose fount is actually guilt, on the part of leaders that threads through his Christian-Hegelian approach.
Nevertheless, Freire never suggests that, even though he grasps that all social practice is tentative, the leadership of the people should abandon their sense of a coherent universe. If the universe is wholly chaotic, incoherent, if one paradigm to understand history and social change is as good as the next; if this obtains, then one's falsity is another's truth, from moment to moment, location to location, gender to gender, race to class, that is, one is mired in post-modernist ideology, and substantially paralyzed by irrationality. Freire is able to stand above crude contemporary post-modern confusion and the avoidance of social practice in that his Hegelian paradigm draws within its boundaries a rational, reasonably consistent understanding of what is at work: class struggle as the prime source, and the importance of engagement, then evaluation. Hence, Freire elevates conscious political and ideological activity to a pivotal role, with specific targets in mind. He makes sense and has the wisdom to call for testing of his own theory and practice.
Freire invites this postulate of the importance of theory to be opened to debate, opened to discourse around options which he recognizes every leader/educator must have, but has no right to impose.(594) Freire struggles with the contradiction of consciousness exacted by leaders and consciousness spontaneously discovered by the masses of people. What is not made problematic in this is around what sphere these options orbit. There are not, for Freire, limitless options, nor is it other than domesticating for an educator/leader to merely leave options to the spontaneous decoding of the students who will likely only be able to see options posed by the elites in power. Freire here turns toward the leadership inherent in proposals for practice, examined through dialogue:
"Dialogue is (the) fundamental part of the structure of knowledge (which) needs to be opened to other Subjects in the knowledge process. Thus the class is not a class in the traditional sense, but a meeting place where knowledge is sought and not where it is transmitted. Just because the educator's task is not dichotomized into two separate moments (one in which he/she knows and another in which s/he speaks about this knowledge), education is a permanent act of cognition."
But while Freire appears to leave open the possibilities for virtually limitless discourse, a permanent act of reinvented cognition, I have shown that he restricts the possibilities within his own paradigmatical desires, as I think does anyone. This is an inevitable result of his strength in calling for social practice, a moment when options are immediately limited by resources, risk, and commitment. The world may have infinite possibilities, but only finite options for action. Like Engels, Freire sees that nothing happens "without a conscious purpose, without intended aims. (What is important is to investigate) what driving forces stand behind those motives? What are the historical causes which transform themselves into these motives in the brains of the actors"?(595)
The methods of investigation, and the results, are mediated by leadership, dialogue, and social practice. Freire is not aimlessly deconstructing. He is headed in a particular direction which, finally, is the most serious of social actions: revolution. And "whether one calls this correct thinking revolutionary consciousness or class consciousness, it (ideological consciousness) is an indispensable precondition of revolution".(596) Beyond the critical consciousness of individuals and leaders, Freire clearly calls for the formation of revolutionary organizations which will themselves pose the problem of liberation to the people.(597)
Freire is especially sharp on the question of leadership--as a double-edged sword. There are important direct parallels in Freire of the discussion regarding revolutionary leaders and the masses, and teachers and students. The divide-and-conquer bases of racism, nationalism, sex/gender discrimination are widely recognized on the left, even if they are not fully unraveled by Freire. But in Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Freire potently takes apart a commonly unnoticed oppressors' tack, the ability of elites to split leaders from the masses of people, to turn leaders into petty oppressors themselves. "One of the methods of manipulation is to inoculate individuals with the bourgeois appetite for personal success..."(598) But since Freire sees domination and resistance played out, above all, in the mind, he believes that manipulation, the carrot, is the key indicator of the potential for people of rebellion, that is, prior to the emergence of a higher, literate, consciousness, there is no rebellion of note. I have shown that the dichotomy of literate consciousness versus resistance, especailly in regard to slave resistance, may be a false one, that wherever there has been oppression there has been rebellion, literacy or no. But in the manner that Freire examines the ability of elites to split the rank and file and indigenous leaders are important lessons for educators and leaders serious about social change.(599)
For Freire sees that, on the one hand, many revolutionary leaders are drawn from the class of oppressors, and on the other hand, this group of leaders stands in, at least, cultural contradiction to the masses of people they are trying to organize. Freire offers, as a synthesis, the idea of adherence, that is, that the leadership become part of the oppressed group, engaged in a of spiralling dialogue in which the Maoist slogan, "From the people to the people" is constantly reenacted, as it is also purportedly reenacted in his classrooms in the development of the curriculum. He warns that, symptomatic of a lack of adherence, is a lack of faith and trust in the people, an inability to hear their part of the dialogue. This leads to a new form of dominance and manipulation, "they try to conquer the people, they become messianic; they...carry out cultural invasion. they do not achieve revolution, or if they do it will not be authentic revolution". Here Freire does not take apart precisely what an authentic revolution might be, though the implication is that it is one in which the leaders are adhered to the masses--subjects to subjects rather than subjects to objects--"co-subjects in denouncing the world".(600) But this, again, is practice through ideology alone. This stance lacks a material base, other than benevolent good will.(601) Freire blames, simultaneously in binary fashion, the ego-needs of leaders, and the "fear of freedom" of oppressed people as the bases for anti-dialogical manipulation, that is, mis-leadership ,the corruption of revolutionary change.(602)
At bottom, though, "the unity of the oppressed occurs at the human level,not at the level of things".(603) What Freire means here is that unity occurs through dialogue, mutual practice, but primarily through psychological linkage based on the unity of mind to mind, the exchange of love.(604) Here Freire considers organizing in terms of Christian metaphors: witnessing, communion, courage to love, incarnation of oppression, faith in the people, as the lynch-pins of organizing technique.(605) Leaders are to reach out to the people, merge reform demands with a revolutionary understanding of why reforms are necessary, and to demonstrate to the people how it is revolutionary consciousness is recreated.(606) Then, the people can reflect on the higher plane of new praxis, through communion with their leaders. The binary of opposing material interests and histories between leadership and the rank and file, for Freire, is overcome by ideology and dialogue; disconnected from their imbalanced relations of power and income. Ideas and talk transcend material differences. So what Freire advances, as he proposes a unity of literacy, consciousness, production, and social change, is a vision that unites ideology, consciousness, leadership, practice, all through the medium of dialogue. Freire invites dialogue to settle even matters of production. In a better world of his design, "The production process, before being productive activity, should be an act of discovery of the needs of the people so it can respond to those needs".(607)
In brief, for Freire, the role of ideas, what Hegel called the Divine Spirit, is above and beyond all, yet determinative in the class struggle which is, again, ultimately subordinate to the development of reason. This is an untenable binary which cannot be mediated. There is no reach from the material world into the Divine Spirit. The binary can stand in Freire as a fixed dichotomy because it is an idealist product, not of historical understanding or social practice, but of the Hegelian polar categories which Freire creates in his mind, a site more limiting and brittle than the imbroglio of external reality. The binary lacks the complexity and richness of the unity and struggle of theory and practice--history. Because Freire moves from the idealist construct, he fashions polar categories which cannot reflect the rich dialectical interplay of the material world. Because he is not a materialist, he cannot be sumptuously dialectical. Yet, I see Freire's strength as his ability to privilege the role of ideology beyond the negative sense of preventing delusions, into the more positive notion of masses of people, armed with an analytical ideology, conceptualizing and constantly recreating the society they want to fight for and live in. But for Freire, this conceptualization is bordered by the perimeters devised, in every instance, theoretically and practically, by leaders motivated first by the theory of productive forces. Even so, within this framework of what I believe is a historical mistake, Freire offers clear testimony of the aggressive potential of masses of people making problematic the question of a better way to live, and why their current state is not it. The Promethean nature of Freire's literacy project is simply this: there is depth of knowledge in this project that can provide the basis for liberatory exploration and education, for example, in Freire's insistence on the importance of ideology, his depth of understanding in the need for real bonds between teachers and students, leaders and the mass of people, and his repeated demands for social practice. On the other hand, his idealism can chain the project to a rock, inescapably fixed in repeating the painful mistakes of a past we are privileged to see in hindsight, which Freire had to help forge. This sums up to evidence, from Freire in theory and Freire in history, of the capacity of the primacy of political ideology when the politics rise from a common material base: equality won through struggle, dialogue, leadership and practice.
Freire approaches the question of leadership in a similar binary fashion. The people, in Freireian discourse, are submissive, passive until they find voice, and require leaders who will humbly illustrate how to think. This is neither the kind of vision that would lead one to place one's respect and faith in people who are so simple they are unable to break the codes of their environments, nor is it the kind of vision that is based on a historical understanding of the usually very wise forms of perpetual resistance--ebbing and flowing with a usually wise sense of risks and opportunities--that people everywhere have organized against exploitation. Further, Freire's position requires the uncorrupted magnanimity of leaders who are likely to be subjected to the most intense systems of rewards and disincentives. The missionary spirit is expected to be terribly powerful, so imbued with the incarnation of the oppression of people who are likely far more oppressed that leaders can successfully steer away from authoritarian action, never to become new elites themselves. This dynamic spirit is given life through communion, dialogue. In sum, for Freire discussion and benevolence will resolve material differences in decision-making, production, and distribution: inequality is vanquished by talk and beneficence. But within this clear binary paradox, this impossibility that again is but a categorical result of Freire's idealism, is the good sense that nothing happens without leadership, and that leaders must have deep personal ties to masses of people, ties which cannot be broken by predictable divide and conquer tactics, whether by making leaders media heroes or guaranteeing leaders entitlements over the mode and means of production. Freire is eloquent in his description of the life and death necessity for leaders to listen to, take direction from, the rank and file. But for Freire this unity is clearly a one-way street, over which the masses have no control. It is solely in the hands of leadership to be munificent, even to the point that leaders through the education system define the act of cooperation in terms of production, now, and justice, later. I have shown how this worked in Grenada. The act of liberation that people remembered was the untenable liberation of national economic development, not social justice. The power to set the terms of decoding power remains with leaders, and cannot in Freire, absent only good will, become fully the weapon of exploited people.
The crux of the matter is that leaders must do more than witness solidarity, the people must be armed with more than a sense that their surroundings are comprehensible, more or less. Both the rank and file and the leadership must have the power to discover, and act on, what it is that stands at the heart of liberation. Otherwise, there is an insoluble imbalance that can only grow. Freire's answer has been generosity from leaders on one hand, the theory of productive forces on the other. Neither side of this dichotomy can possibly empower people unless they are able to unravel and challenge both sides, from a common material vision.
What I suggest can unite leaders with the rank and file, production
with commitment, discourse with ideology, present practice with theorized
hope, is human equality, from each according to ability to each according
to need, the synthesis which cannot be corrupted when it becomes a material
force of doctrine and praxis. Equality, in production, distribution, decisions,
adopted by masses of people as the material wedge to comprehend and act
on reality does mediate the binary which leaves Freire on the horns of
the many dilemmas he identifies. Equivalence, adopted by leadership and
tested by the people, can call short the power of elites to effect the
internal development of social change, to turn social justice into social
disparity. The route to equality, which is likely to always need redefinition
in its specificity, is through dialogue, discourse, struggle communicated.
To pretend this can be given a perfect life is to wait for revelations,
but to say that, instance by instance, people who grasp the imperative
of equality, not as an abstraction but as a process and a goal, can discover
ways to equality, is to humbly understand the historical power of the call
for real human unity. In what may be his concluding work, Pedagogy of
Hope, Freire offers the chance to visualize a utopia greater than what
has been composed by socialism but built on the understanding left in memorium
by massive human sacrifices in the name of liberty and equality. He calls
for the construction of a dream in which the artisans of a new world construct
their utopia in their minds. I believe that dream must go beyond fancy,
past what has been dreamt and established, and enter the world as the ideological
and material position that equality is the trajectory of human history,
the fully democratic goal that mediates the process toward utopia. In that,
I would cast my own hope.(608)
For Freire, in the beginning is the word. Ideas stand above and outside the external world and social practice. This system of ideas is rational and extends into the material world, reconstructs it, and is informed by it, again, like God, but not necessarily equated to God in Freire, the realm of ideas and rationality is above the material world. This is beyond, "I think, therefore I am." It is, finally, an essentialist and totalized vision bound, not by concrete analysis, but only to faith. But within this framework are vital contributions which cannot be ignored.
I believe, in contrast to Freire, that in the beginning there is the material world. This assertion of the primacy of external matter is, in my view, materialism, and is the base of rationality. Nothing comes from nothing. Things exist and they have a history. The physical world is primary to the mind, yet the mind is part of the physical world. "I am, therefore I think." Ideas are both a reflection of the material world and are themselves a material force when acted on by masses of people. Marxist philosopher Georg Lukacs posits that dialectical materialism is equated with totality, that is, because dialectical materialism is united with material existence, the philosophy is connected with the totality of the world in its great complexity.(609) I would differ slightly: dialectical materialism is a process by which to grasp, primarily, the processes of the material world and to gain an ever-enriched understanding of reality, but it is not reality itself, other than in a relative sense. I concur with Lukacs in that dialectical materialism is enveloped by the necessity of the transformation of reality, not merely its understanding.
For Freire, things in the material world, which does exist as a subject, but actually as a sub-world, are related to one another, flow into one another, but they do so in a fashion constructed of nearly impenetrable polarities not unlike the common thesis, synthesis, anti-thesis debasement of dialectics. This occurs because the categories of understanding dialectics are drawn, in Freire, not from the interplay of the world's contradictions which are infinite, but by the interplay of categories which were first constructed in Hegel's mind, especially as Freire understands Chapter Eight of Hegel's Phenomenology of the Mind.(610) These categories are applied in a manner which necessarily lacks the intricacies of the material world. I have shown how this works in Freire, for example, in his grasp of the contradictions of leadership, where ideas are to transcend material differences with nothing but dialogue and good will mediating the two oppositions.
Freire and I agree all things are interrelated, interpenetrating, interdependent. Nothing is random, nothing isolated. But, again, I think that this complexity originates in the material world. So Freire and I would agree that all things are composed of contradictions, but we would not agree on what gives rise to those contradictions, nor would we be likely to agree on what side of a given contradiction is primary at any given moment. As we do not agree on the cause of contradictions, we do not agree on their nature. I have posed the idea that Freire's sense of contradictions is incomplete, or more incomplete, as it denies the primary complexity of material existence and privileges the dichotomous understanding of contradictions that comes, especially, from Hegel. The Hegelian idea of contradictions simplifies the interrelatedness, and interpenetration, of not only the intricacies of reality, but the contradictions themselves.
For Freire, the key historical reality is the development ideology as reflected by culture through language. History is measured for Freire by the ideas of given epochs. I believe the key historical material reality is production, and the present key contradiction is the contradiction between collective nature of production, and private, individual ownership of what is produced. This gives rise to privilege, social classes, and class struggle. This difference is the reason Freire's work is so focused on domination versus humanization while Marx centers on exploitation and revolution.
Freire is then mired in the binary which is a secondary focus of this paper: he cannot break through the boundaries of sectarianism and opportunism that typify his work, that is, he adopts the mechanical theory of productive forces yet places his faith in the primacy of the role of ideology, and the individual. Since ideology is located, for Freire, first in the individual mind, and then in all of humanity, a second binary develops in Freire which he is unable to bridge, other than through dialogue and love, that is, humanist ideology arches above and through material difference.(611)
When Freire backgrounds the material world, or places it beneath his notions of ideology; he then makes dubious choices about key principles of dialects.
The main principle of dialectics is the unity and struggle of opposites, one becomes two. I contend the key side of this principle is struggle which is permanent, unity temporary. For Freire, unity consistently dominates struggle, and unity is constructed in the mind. This occurs in his pedagogy when Freire says that teachers and students must be united via dialogue; it occurs in his revolutionary politics when leaders and the masses are linked in the same fashion. This also shows up in Freire's relationship with capitalist states (as in Sao Paulo's education system) and bourgeois organizations (as in the World Council of Churches), both sites where Freire has repeatedly played a largely uncritical leadership role.
The second principle of dialectics is that quantity becomes quality, and, in turn, the new quality becomes a quantity itself. Quantitative changes add up to a qualitative leap. Freire, in recognizing the need for revolution--the leap, or in his pedagogy, the need for building literacy programs quantitatively on a known base, acknowledges this principle, but makes it an extraordinarily fragile axiom. Freire supports revolutions, like Grenada, where the quantitative work that would create a mass base for revolutionary democratic and egalitarian practice is largely absent. Instead, Freire uses a one-dimensional sense of this principle, and gives his blessing to socialist movements which substitute leadership good will for mass political consciousness and egalitarian practices.
Freire analyzes the negation of the negation as he conceptualizes the shift of consciousness from naive to political, that is, from a consciousness that serves as an instrument of its own oppression to a consciousness which begins to understand the roots of oppression. But, trapped by his idealist framework, Freire never finds what it is that mediates the transference from understanding oppression to revolutionary action, or from critical consciousness to liberation.
Freire frequently inverts the key sides of the categories of dialectics and makes choices which, while appearing to recognize the relationships of the categories and their interplay, simply do not. This is not, in any instance herein, to argue that Freire's contribution to an understanding of these processes is either minimal or can only be seen as a negative example. In the wealth of his texts, and in the practice which is examined in the chapters above, Freire has indubitably contributed to the cultural consciousness of dialectics as a process. Moreover, Freire is not easily encased in a discussion which seeks to simplify an exposition of his often enigmatic presentations. He is at once obscure and subtle. Nevertheless, at least the historical evidence gives reason to question where Freire's theories finally must lead.
In regard to appearance and essence: Freire's idealism reverses the knowledge flow from the external to the internal, growing richer as it progresses in depth. The appearance of social justice, that is, the intent which purportedly lies within socialism, is expected to override vast material differences. In the classroom, the appearance of a non-directive format is clearly contradicted by the requisite directiveness in the choice of any form of pedagogy. This also goes to Freire's use of generative words and flash cards which appear to both rise from the issues of the people and to teach them to read, but which whole language critics, rightly I think attack as being subtly domineering, disjointed, and alienating.
Freire largely privileges form over content; he wants to suggest that it is the style of leadership, the system of pedagogy, supercedes the content of inequality or the essence of the teaching project. While I agree with Freire that form influences content, in the final analysis it is the content of the pedagogy, that is, its political heart, which finally determines the nature of matter. Again, this is not to say the form cannot subvert the content, that an open and free pedagogical project cannot provide the space for discovery or that the process of freedom in setting curricular material cannot be in and of itself liberating, but at base the questions of who is served by the project, what interests are promulgated, are answered primarily by content. And again, by approaching this category as a polar binary, rather than a contradiction of interrelated polarities at struggle, Freire is unable to find a way to mediate on to the other.
Freire would have the relativity of knowledge at balance with, or out-weighing, the absolute, particularly when he becomes the postmodernist Freire as in Pedagogy of Hope.(612) In postmodernist theory, truth is merely relative, that is, any notion of truth is postured as totalizing, essentialist, especially when that truth is posed by Marxists who, when making the proposition, are quickly positioned as orthodox. Interestingly, Lukacs, in an essay called "what is Orthodox Marxism", simply says it is dialectical materialism, and goes ahead to explain his sense of it.(613) Even so, the irrationalist belief adopted by postmodernism is that no single explanation can lie at the base of understanding history. If this relativist stance is true, one base can serve as well as the next. But what this allows in practice is the denial of the antagonistic interests of capitalism, on one hand, and the willingness to forge alliances across class interests on the other. This is surely true within Freire and the socialist Workers' Party, and it is true within the socialist theory of productive forces. In contrast, the dialectical materialist standpoint is, I think, a recognition that truth is both absolute and relative, that the answer to the question: Is there absolute truth? is, relatively speaking, yes. Class, I believe, is the denominator of history, but this does not eliminate, or even minimize, its many numerators, sex/gender, race, age and so on. It does make sense of them. Here, too, Freire is inclined to set aside the partisan nature of the struggle for what is true. Once he has decided that class is not the key issue, a construct which does not necessarily drive him into the irrationalist postmodernist camp because it rises from his hegelian idealism and still allows him from time to time to recognize the subordinate but important processes of history, he is then able to position himself as a humanist interested in the abstractions of truth and freedom, rather than as a partisan interested in the kind of social change which can one day lay the basis for material equality and democracy. Whatever his relativism, to Freire's credit, he has never been so paralyzed by the balance of options that he could not act.
Freire is especially helpful in recognizing the possibilities within that which is immediately present, the potential within the actual. He sees things are simultaneously what they are and what they can be, especially in regard to students. But because Freire stresses the ideological over the material, I have shown that he is inclined to miss the rich historical possibilities of resistance and rebellion that are within people, even when they are not writers and readers, when they have not engaged the same codes he has. The possible rises out of the internal nature of the matter at hand. And Freire tends to see the potential rising out of the ideology at hand.
Particular and the General: Generalities are made possible by the study of the particularities of matter, and weaving the specifics into verifiable patterns. But for Freire's idealist approach, the particularities at hand are, first, cultural, and, secondly, if at all, matters of production. Inequality is seen as the unequal ability to theorize, especially in print. When the particularities of a literacy project are developed, even the details of exploitation and work are seen immediately, by the expert instructors who finally set the initial agenda, as cultural artifacts. This is a leap from the particular to the general which misplays their interrelationship and subverts the process of decoding the systems of oppression surrounding everyone by confusing base and superstructure, origins and effects.
Freire's Hegelian foundations lead him to miscalculate the relationships of likeness and difference. True, people are more alike than different. But this can only be an abstraction if it is lifted from the material antagonisms that rise out of the exigencies of capital development. Hence, Freire is likely to view humanity as a whole, rather than social classes in struggle. And Freire tends to invert the contradiction in the opposite direction as well, that is, within his political party he elevates difference over likeness, many caucuses and positions within a federation rather than democracy extending from a base of solidarity and common interest. Hence, Freire's frequent alliances with dominants on the one hand, and Freire's inability to distinguish Mao from Guevara from Bishop from Cabral, Freire's frequent nationalist comments about Brazil, Cabral, to the other hand where Freire is open to caucuses within a party meant to create the unity for revolution.
Racism, rooted in the anti-scientific views of eugenics, falsely elevates difference over likeness. Liberalism, on the other hand, ignores antagonistic material class interests and elevates the vision of "humanity" over opposing forces of contention.
Cause and effect: Freire's sense of critical consciousness is partially rooted in people's ability to discover the causes of the conditions around them. Dialectical materialism seeks to locate the causes behind symptomatic effects, and properly applied, looks for causes in the material world. But Freire finds causes first in the ideological realm, culture especially, and then converts effects to causes. This lies, too, at the base of his sense that literacy and voice are the indicators of the understanding of oppression and resistance. Literacy may rise up as a response to oppression, but literacy is only a secondary cause of oppression.
For Freire, the objective and subjective are deeply intertwined and his contribution to the understanding of this category, I think is especially sharp. He recognizes that subjectivity, action on reality and the ideological and practical reconstruction of reality, the sense that what people do to act to control their own lives counts, is key to social change. In addition, Freire contributes here to the importance of the role of ideas as a material force, as agents of change which can turn historical epochs. Freire is alert to the limits on subjectivity but is especially helpful in demonstrating that many of those limits are self-constructed cages, boundaries established in undeconstructed ideology which may not have been fully tested. I think Freire is especially helpful to school workers, teachers, here in demonstrating the possibilities for resistance in education, showing that there is far greater potential in school than the simple reproduction of capitalist relations. Yet, since Freire finally must place subjectivity in a primary, and binary, relationship with objectivity, he is not able, for example, to reach into the history of socialism and see the inability of inegalitarian, if good-willed, socialist parties to mobilize, or link themselves with, masses of people in democratic social change.
I demonstrated in the second chapter how Freire holds the agnostic position
of the simultaneous relationship of theory and practice, and how this position
denies practice is the beginning and end of the knowledge cycle which moves
from initial perception to abstraction to action and reflection. Still,
within his sub-context of dialectical materialism as a means to understand
activity in the world, Freire insists on the effort toward unity of theory
and practice, praxis. It is here, finally, that Freire reasserts his great
strength and willingness to be called to the test, which itself has been
the focus of this document. While Freire will, as a Christian and Hegelian,
finally appeal to faith, within his framework is the possibility to discover
either its own flaws, or the possibilities he has not considered. This
locates, at the same time, the genuine humility in Freire which I believe
makes him powerful.
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1. Rubiyat of Omar Kyam. A note on sexism and language: Freire has retained the sexist language in new editions of his older books, like Pedagogy of the Oppressed. He says he does so to preserve the historical documents, and in his latest, Pedagogy of Hope, he makes a modest exploration of sexism in language. I find no particular value in the notation "(sic)" to indicate that I do not especially like his choice, and I do not. I cannot claim I would have written differently in 1970. I do today. I think those who will read this document are sophisticated and will recognize the historical importance of Freire's choice which he has announced repeatedly and seems to me may amount to a form of continuing and honest self-criticism. As in the usage repeated here from the Rubiyat, I think there is in fact historical interest in older forms of signalling. Hence, in quoting, I have retained the original, as is.
In preparing this document, I had the opportunity to study biblical texts for the first time in any detail. I was surprised to find the many references which shed light on Freire's thinking and my project at hand. Throughout I have selected quotes which I think point both back to the long historical record, and to the insights which can give people a more cogent grasp of what is to come.
2. Prodigy Grolier Encyclopedia, Listed under Literacy, 7-12-94.
3. N. Patrick Peritore (1993) Socialism, Communism and Liberation Theology in Brazil, Ohio University Press, Latin American Series Number 15, Athens, Ohio p197. See also, Barry Carr and Steve Ellner (editors) (1993) The Latin American Left, Westview Press, Boulder p229.
4. Robert Mackie (1981) Literacy and Revolution, The Pedagogy of Paulo Freire, Continuum Publishing, New York p61.
5. Colin Lankshear and Moira Lawler (1987) Literacy, Schooling and Revolution, Palmer PRess New York, p28.
6. Frank Smith (1994) WHose Language What Power, Teachers College Press, New York p172.
7. Robert Mackie (1981) Literacy and Revolution, Continuum Publishing, New York, p 70.
8. Peter McLaren (1989) Life In Schools, Longman Publishing, New York p194.
9. Harvey Graff(1987) Labyrinths of Literacy, Palmer Press, New York p61.
10. Maxine Greene (1988) The Dialectic of Freedom, Teachers College Press, New York, p8.
11. Rethinking Schools (1994 Spring) v8 n3 Milwaukee, p3.
12. Jim Walkerr writing in Robert Mackie (editor), Literacy and Revolution (1981) Continuum Publishing, New York p121.
13. Colin Lankshear (1987) Literacy, Schooling and Revolution, Palmer Press, New York p199.
14. Stanley Aronowitz (1993) "Paulo Freire's Radical Democratic Humanism" in MacLaren, Peter, Paulo Freire, A Critical Encounter, Routledge, New York p11.
15. Arguing the irrationalist case--which is by extension rightist, in an article containing otherwise interesting contributions.15. Ellsworth, Elizabeth (1989 August) "Why Doesn't This Feel Empowering", Harvard Educational Review, v59 n3 p297. Making the case for technology as the lynch-pin of history is Bowers, C.A. (1983) Linguistic Roots of Cultural Invasion in Paulo Freire's Pedagogy", Teachers College Record v84 n4 p935. Bowers attacks Freire's individualist, and rationalist, sense in "the Problem of Individualism and Community in Neo-Marxist Educational Thought (Spring 1984) Teachers College Record, v.85 n3 p365. Interestingly, both articles contribute to the belief (Western as it may seem) that the crux of the matter is whether your vision of the world is right or wrong, not whether or not someone is invading another's turf, a denominator of all interaction.
16. See for example, Paulo Freire (1993) Pedagogy of the City, Continuum Publications, New York p.122.
17. Freire, Paulo (1985) The Politics of Education, Bergin and Garvey, New York, Giroux writing in Introduction, p xii.
18. Paulo Freire (1989) Learning to Question, Continuum Publishing, New York p59.
19. Paulo Freire (1985) Pedagogy in Process, Seabury Pres, New York, p.107
20. Paulo Freire (1994) Pedagogy of Hope, Continuum, New York, p127. Aronowitz attacks the centrifugal importance of the working class in his seminal, Crisis of Historical Materialism (1992) Routledge, New York.
21. Paul Taylor (1993) The Texts of Paulo Freire, Open University Press, Philadelphia p45.
22. Paulo Freire (1978) Pedagogy in Process, Seabury Press, New York p107.
23. Moacir Gadotti (1994) Reading Paulo Freire, State University of New York Press, Albany p76.
24. Clifford Geertz (1973) The Interpretation of Cultures. Basic Books, New York. It is unfortunate that Geertz article about Balinese culture has become, in isolation as a singular piece, a classic. Geertz, in describing the seething cauldron of repressed male violence acted out in the cockfights of an otherwise passive culture missed, within this article, the nearly concurrent murder of about 1/2 a million communist organizers by the government. He does mention the event elsewhere. But, Geertz is a good example of how a conspiratorial wink can be analyzed as a benevolent conspiracy in the absence of the right statistical or demographic questions--like who owns this place, or how many people work here?
25. Shaull, Richard (1982) in the Introduction to Pedagogy of the Oppressed, p11.
26. Gary A. Olson (Winter, 1992) "History, Praxis and Change: Paulo Freire and the Politics of Literacy", Journal of Advanced Composition, v12 n1.
27. Freire, Paulo (1985) The Politics of Education, Bergin and Garvey, New York, p102.
28. Shor, Ira (1988) "Working Hands and Critical Minds: A Paulo Freire Model for Job Training". Journal of Education, v70 n2. Shor, whose admirable efforts have made Freire's thinking accessible to many North American educators unwilling to wade through the language of the original, repeated this statement to me in a public meeting in November, 1993--and insisted on its accuracy. With greatest respect, I differ.
29. Interview with John Dewitt (5-20-94). Wayne State University. Most biographers say Freire has five children. Dewitt is the author of An Exposition and Analysis of Paulo Freire's Radical Psycho-Social Andragogy of Development (1971) Boston University, University Microfilm number 71-26,694.
30. Costigan, Margaret (1983) "Paulo Freire", Convergence, An INternational Journal of Adult Education. p37.
31. Paulo Freire (1985) The Politics of Education, Bergin and Garvey p127.
32. The concluding notes in Pedagogy of Hope, written by Ana Freire, contain a brief overview of the development of racism in Brazil. Her notes are cursory. The primary concern here, though, is that this work has never been done by Paulo Freire.
33. Freire, Paulo (1993) Pedagogy of the City, Continuum Publications, New York p.92. For documentation on the Sao Paulo homeless children, CBS 60 Minutes, 12-1-94. See also, Report on the Americas (May/June 1994) North American Committee on Latin America, v 37 n8 p23. This report indicates 1,000 street children are killed per year by death squads. However, it also claims 5,000 murders within the last 3 years. There is a worthy bibliography on "Disposable Children" in Latin American in this volume. Ana Freire addresses this issue in her notes to Pedagogy of Hope. Freire does raise the question of homelessness in this most recent book, but never the question of the deliberate murder of street kids by the police.
34. Paulo Freire (1978) Pedagogy in Process Seabury Press, New York p11.
35. See below for a discussion on the Marryshow readers, primers, in Grenada.
36. Olson 1992 p4 and p11.
37. Paulo Freire (1985) The Politics of Education p196.
38. John Dewitt (1971) "An Exposition and Analysis of Paulo Freire's Radical Psycho-Social Androgogy of Development", unpublished doctoral dissertation, Boston University School of Education, UM Microfilm #71-26,694 p238.
39. Freire and Horton, We Make This Road by Walking, p133.
40. Freire, Paulo and Horton, Myles (1990) We Make the Road by Walking, Temple Press, Philadelphia, p246.
41. For a brief description of the Swedish appropriation, see: Staffan Selander (1990) Curriculum Studies, V22 n6 p557-564. This article also inspires the consideration that Freire has usually worked on the side of state power.
42. Freire, Paulo (1978) Pedagogy In Process: The Letters to Guinea Bissau, Seabury Press, New York. p81.
43. Ruth Wilson Gilmore (1993), "Public Enemies and Private Intellectuals: Apartheid USA," Race and Class, v35 n1 p69
44. Paul Taylor (1993) The Texts of Paulo Freire, Open University Press, Philadelphia p15. Freire himself discusses his servants and his middle class life style in Pedagogy of Hope (1994) Continuum, New York.
45. For decent and opposing elaborations of the philosophy of dialectical materialism, see Ira Gollobin (1985) Dialectical Materialism, Its Laws, Categories and Practice, Petras Press, New York, and Gustav Wetter (1970) Dialectical Materialism, Praegar Press, New York. In Georg Lukacs', Marxism and Liberation, Lukacs titles a chapter "What is Orthodox Marxism?" and goes ahead to describe his belief that orthodox Marxism is dialectical materialism rooted in its struggle to interpret reality as a totality. Unfortunately, since Lukacs' writing, the meaning of orthodox when it is linked to Marx has shifted quite a bit.
46. This means, obviously, that I believe there is no god. I feel it is reasonable to offer no proofs here. The burden is fairly on the believers. Freire is a well-known Catholic who I take seriously, respectfully. I disagree with his vision which I believe defines essentialism, that is, once god is posited, the turn to faith is requisite. Even so, I find in Freire the willingness to unravel the essentialism that blocks some religious views and, to a degree, practice which relies on human agency and analysis, that is, reason unstopped by faith.46.
47. Freire discusses his use and understanding of dialectical materialism in The Politics of Education p152-154.
48. Paulo Freire (1994) Pedagogy of Hope, Continuum, New York p199. Freire goes further still here, in describing his life's project in literacy as the "social acquisition of language" to take "history into their hands".
49. Mao Tse Tung (1974) Little Red Book, China/Yenan Publishing. p130.
50. Stuart Schram (1993) The Political Thought of Mao Tse Tung, Cambridge Publications New York p187.
51. CBS News Film Documentary (1967) "Harvest of Shame".
52. Prodigy Grollier Encyclopedia, electronic listing under language and literacy historical analysis, 7-94.
53. Scot Nearing (1921) Education in Soviet Russia, Random House, New York. Nearing does a lovely job describing a dialogic and exploratory curriculum. Dewey's final chapter to Democracy and Education follows much the same tack in describing dialogue linked to practice. Freire frequently cites Dewey, as in Education for Critical Consciousness p57. Freire's most recent, the "Pedagogy of Hope" (1994) Continuum, New York, has a brief synopsis of Jesuit activity in Brazil in the footnotes, written not by Freire but by his collaborator Ana Maria Freire (p228). There is controversy in her assertion that the Jesuits believed indigenous Brazilians and Africans had no souls. Indeed, ALL humans were admitted to the church.
54. Two eloquent depictions of liberation theology not mentioned above are worth the read: Leonardo Boff (1980) Liberating Grace, translated by John Drury, Orbis Publications, New York; And Penny Lernoux (1985) People of God, the Struggle for World Catholicism, Viking, New York. Both authors have a history of controversy with Catholic officialdom and involvement with Freire.
55. J. Elspeth Stuckey (1993) The Violence of Literacy, Boynton Cook, Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
56. Freire Pedagogy of the Oppressed p121.
57. Henry Giroux writing in the Introduction to The Politics of Education by paulo Freire px11..
58. In Pedagogy in Process, Freire comments, "...the radical difference between the violence of the oppressor and the oppressed...the former is exercised in order to express the violence implicit in exploitation and domination. That of the latter is used to eliminate violence through the revolutionary transformation of the reality that makes it possible." p34. In Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Freire is clearly tickled by the thought that the revolution involves...the word, the people, and gunpowder..." p179. Freire also comments that he finds merit in the Chinese Cultural Revolution, which was not a dinner party, and which gave this writer insights into looking for clues and alternatives beyond Freire's social democratic view. See in particular, The Politics of Education p106.
59. Paulo Freire, Education for Critical Consciousness p56.
60. Paulo Freire (November, 1982) The Importance of the Act of Reading, Journal of Education, Boston University.p10.
61. Ibid p10.
62. Georg Lukacs (1973) Marxism and Human Liberation, Delta Books, New York p22-23.
63. Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed p38.
64. Paulo Freire, Pedagogy in Process p10.
65. Paulo Freire (1983) Pedagogy of the Oppressed p75.
66. Paulo Freire Education for Critical Consciousness p81
67. Paulo Freire Pedagogy of the oppressed p68.
68. Paulo Freire (1969) Education for Critical Consciousness, Continuum, New York p49-52.
69. Carol Edelsky (1991) writing in With Literacy and Justice for All, Rethinking the Social in Language and Education< Palmer Press, New York p92.
70. Ibid p92.
71. Constance Weaver (1990) Understanding Whole Language, Heinemann Books, Portsmouth p164.
72. Paulo Freire and Donaldo Macedo (1987) Literacy, Bergin and Garvey, New York p147-148.
73. Literacy p157.
74. Paulo Freire (1970) Education for Critical Consciousness, Continuum, New York p55.
75. Interview with Dr. John Dewitt, Wayne State University,6 June 1994. Notes in my possession. Here Dewitt paraphrases Nietzsche, "He who has a why to live can bear almost any how."
76. Freire and Horton, We make this Road by Walking p77.
77. Freire and Horton, We Make This Road By Walking p77.
78. See the discussion in Pedagogy of the Oppressed on the development of consciousness p174.
79. Paulo Freire Education for Critical Consciousness p114.
80. Paulo Freire (1984) The Importance of the Act of Reading, Journal of Education Boston University p10.
81. Paul Taylor, The Texts of Paulo Freire p122/130/145/146.
82. Paulo Freire Politics of Education p105.
83. Freire often quotes Che Gueverra on the need for love to motivate a revolutionary. See Pedagogy of the Oppressed p77.
84. Paul Taylor, The Text of Paulo Freire p44.
85. Paulo Freire Pedagogy in Process p30.
86. Paulo Freire (1994) Pedagogy of Hope, Continuum, New York p157.
87. Paulo Freire and Ira Shor (1990) Freire for the Classroom, Boynton cook, New York p212.
88. I note here an interesting historical side: "The Roman Catholic Church was the sole protector of literacy during the medieval period...but creativity was found simply in the expression of ornamental styles of writing", Prodigy Grollier Electronic Encyclopedia filed under Literacy 7-94. While the meaning of ornamental styles surely signals their print design, I think there may be within implications for post-modern writing.
89. Paulo Freire Literacy p135.
90. Paulo Freire Literacy p159.
91. Paulo Freire Pedagogy in Process p63
92. Paulo Freire Pedagogy in Process p63.
93. Paulo Freire Pedagogy in Process p11.
94. paulo Freire Education for Critical Consciousness p49.
95. Paulo Freire Education for Critical Consciousness p49.
96. Reliance on experts is routine in Freire and somewhat distinguishes his work from the early Cuban literacy projects. There could be a link with the fact that Freire himself is an expert. See the discussions on who leads programs in Pedagogy in Process beginning on page 69.
97. For elaboration see Education for Critical Consciousness p45/46.
98. Paulo Freire Politics of Education p59.
99. John Dewitt directed me to this notion which Freire initially raised with him in discussions at Harvard. The quote is from the Compact Oxford English Dictionary (1990) New York, p845.
100. paulo Freire Politics of Education p69.
101. Freire Pedagogy for Liberation p36.
102. Freire Education for Critical Consciousness p19
103. Freire Pedagogy of Liberation p156/157
104. Freire Pedagogy of Liberation p102. See Freire's discussion on the use of dialogue to create class consciousness as a key factor in revolution in Pedagogy of the Oppressed p146. One questions the position Freire would take on the present need for a violent revolution in Sao Paulo. I contend this is not an unfair decontextualization and note, again, that Freire has always worked on the side of regimes in power where he has been located.
105. Paulo Freire The Politics of Education p152.
106. Freire Education for Critical Consciousness p18
107. Paulo Freire Pedagogy of liberation p11.
108. Paulo Freire Pedagogy of Liberation p36.
109. Paulo Freire, Education for Critical Consciousness p5,6,44.
110. Paulo Freire Pedagogy of Hope p31.
111. Paulo Freire Pedagogy of Liberation p33.
112. Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Hope p46.
113. Paulo Freire Pedagogy of Hope P30-31.
114. Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Liberation p175.
115. Freire We Make this Road by Walking p219.
116. Freire, Education for Critical Consciousness p39.
117. Freire (1985) The Politics of Education, Bergin and Garvey, Massachusetts p89.
118. Paulo Freire, Learning to Question p69.
119. Paulo Freire Politics of Education p90.
120. Freire The Politics of education p106.
121. See for example, William Hinton (1985) Shen Fan, random House, New York.
122. Paulo Freire (1994) Pedagogy of Hope, Continuum, New York p129/171. He also points to the military as a possible source of undermining progressive, post-revolutionary education.
123. Freire, The Politics of Education p133.
124. Freire, Politics of Education p133-134. For Lenin, see "Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Communism". For a discussion of the Leninist approach as it was adopted and expanded by Stalin, see Claudin, The Communist Movement.
125. Paulo Freire (1983) Education for Critical Consciousness, Continuum, New York p32.
126. Paulo Freire (1978) Pedagogy in Process, Seabury Press p14.
127. Freire (1978) Pedagogy in Process p77.
128. Freire (1978) Pedagogy in Process p114.
129. Freire, Pedagogy in Process p140.
130. Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Hope p113.
131. paulo Freire Pedagogy of Hope p78.
132. See for example Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Hope p100.
133. Robert Mackie (1991) Literacy and Revolution, Continuum, New York p119 quoting Freire from Education, Cultural Action for Freedom. p17-18.
134. I urge a review of James C. Scott (1993) Domination and the Arts of Resistance: Hidden Transcripts, Random House, New York, for a rather thorough and dialectically rich grasp of the language and action that always responds to exploitation.
135. Paulo Freire (1994) Pedagogy of Hope p.231. Ana Freire's writing here is not a fluke. Another footnote, in "the Politics of education" takes a very similar stance in regard to resistance and racism. In discussion black people in the southern U.S., Freire says, "there are divergences between the younger and older generations that cannot be explained by psychological criteria, but rather by a dialectical understanding of the emerging consciousness. The younger generation, less influenced by fatalism than the older, most logically assume positions qualitatively different from the older generation, not only in regard to passive silence, but also in regard to the methods of their movements. (p95). This astonishing ahistorical statement sums up Freire's approach to racism which is, on the one hand, idealist, that is, it ignores the material basis of racism and the long history of anti-racist struggle in the south, and wherever domination has occurred and it moreover equates, talk with resistance. Because this is not a materialist position, it cannot be fully dialectical and hence Freire poses a binary of emerging consciousness with psychology. This position is fundamentally racist because, at base, it denies the history of humanity of black people by presupposing that black people, peculiar in the history of the world, have not always found ways to resist exploitation.
136. Paul Taylor The Texts of Paulo Freire p9.
137. Paulo Freire (1987) A Pedagogy for Liberation, Bergin and Garvey, New York p156. Freire elaborates on the idea that the teacher must understand her political position and struggle for it, but not be demagogues, on pages 92, 100, 172, and 174.
138. Gadotti, px1.
139. John Elias (1994) Paulo Freire: Pedagogue of Liberation Krieger Publishing Malabar, Florida p31. Elias poses Freire's "eclecticism" as "Drinking from many wells". I think the term obscure is more useful and to the point. But his vision is obscure only in its theoretical construction and it is its evaluation in practice which is the test. Freire's own calls for reflective praxis fit this bill.
140. For a presentation of the contextual thinking of Situationist Anarchism, an influence on post-modernism that is rarely give its due, see Fredy Perlman (1985) The Continuing Appeal of Nationalism, Black and Red Publications, Detroit, or any of the works of Guy Debold. The situationists focus on the politics of spectacles, arguing frequently that reality is tied primarily to society's most flagrant representations, and that ethical action can only be understood in the most particular of individual contexts. Individualist, anti-communist, typically anarchist, the situationists contribute mostly through their commitment to equality and action. Quote is from Freire, Pedagogy for Liberation p157.
141. Taylor The Texts of Paulo Freire p9.
142. Paulo Freire, Politics of Education p69.
143. Freire Politics of Education p136.
144. See Paul Taylor, The Texts of Paulo Freire p. 5/49/54 and Paulo Freire's Chapter titles, like the Gnosciological Cycle in Pedagogy for Liberation.
145. W.L. Reese (1992) Dictionary of Philosophy and Religion, Humanities Press, New Jersey p192. The Gnostic sects can only be seen as bizarre, some slipping into religious prostitution.
146. See Freire's reference to Lenin's grasp of the link between theory and practice in Pedagogy of the Oppressed p120.
147. V.I. Lenin (1959) Materialism and Empiro-Criticism, International Publishing, New York p16/36.
148. Lenin Materialism and Empiro-Criticism p99.
149. Robert Tucker (1985) The Lenin Anthology, Norton, New York p.639. Emphasis Lenin's.
150. Freire Politics of Education p178.
151. Freire A Pedagogy for Liberation p134.
152. Freire Pedagogy for Liberation p90.
153. Freire and Horton We Make This Road by Walking p221.
154. It is unfortunate that this discussion does reflect a constrained sense of history. The Soviet revolution, forced by circumstances rather than design to fire the teaching force when teachers struck against the revolution, replaced them overnight with parents, many never to return, and dramatically altered the nature of Soviet education for some years to come. The restoration of inequality through the New Economic Policy underpinned a return to the old, anti-dialogical, forms and substance of schooling. See Scott Nearing (1924) Education in Soviet Russia, International Publishers, New York; and Anatol Lunacharsky (1980) On Education, International Publishers, New York.
155. Freire and Horton We Make this Road by Walking p100.
156. Freire and Horton We Make this Road by Walking p132.
157. See for example, Pedagogy of Hope p172/180.
158. Here I offer Fernando Claudin (1985) The Communist Movement, Monthly Review Press (two volumes), New York, as a beginning. No socialist government has ever claimed to abolish commodity production, inequality in distribution, or inequitable wage systems. No socialist government has been able to establish production for use.
159. Freire, Pedagogy for Liberation p156-157. Freire claims to rely on the student's direction in "inductive moments" but the recognition of that moment, and its direction, is clearly in the hands of the teacher
160. Paulo Freire (1989) Learning to Question, Continuum Publications, New York p53.
161. Paulo Freire (1993) Pedagogy of the City, Continuum, New York p106.
162. Freire makes the same comment in Pedagogy of the City p92.
163. Paulo Freire (1993) Pedagogy of the City, Continuum, New York. Throughout, Freire makes note of his support for and membership in the Workers Party. See p139. Paul Taylor (1993) The Texts of Paulo Freire p29 notes that Freire helped found the Workers Party.
164. Louis Horowitz (1969) Latin American Radicalism, Random House New York, p441.
165. David Morawitz, Twenty Five Years Of National Development, World Bank, 1977, quoted in Luiza Fernandes (1985 February) Basic Ecclesiastical Communities in Brazil, Harvard Educational Review, v33 n1 p81.
166. Moacir Gadotti (1994) Reading Paulo Freire, His Life and Works, Suny Press, New York. p.ix.
167. For a detailed examination, see Thomas Merrick and Douglas Graham (1979) Population and Economic Development In Brazil, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore. Freire comments on the stratification of Brazilian Portuguese by class in Pedagogy for Liberation p72.
168. Luis Fernandes (1985 February) Basic Ecclesiastical Communities in Brazil, Harvard Educational Review, v33 n1 p76. Fernandes believes 98% of Brazilians are Catholic. A more recent picture is presented by NACLA ((1994 May June) Report on the Americas, The Rise of Evangelical Protestantism, which demonstrates the challenges to Catholicism from the Christian right and the Marxist left. A more detailed presentation on the state of the church follows in a later chapter.
169. Charles Wood p109.
170. Merrick and Graham p161.
171. North American Committee for Latin America (May-June 1979) Report on the Americas v13 n3 p18. The AIFLD is widely recognized as a front for the U.S. CIA. It is simply not possible to discuss Brazil outside its imperial and colonial relationship with the U.S., and in that context, it is not possible to avoid the pivotal role played by U.S. intelligence agencies in Latin America.
172. North American Committee on Latin America (July-August 1979) Report on the Americas v12 n4
173. Charles H. Wood p77.
174. Caipora Women's Group (1994) Women in Brazil, South End Press, New York p16.
175. Maria Nubia Barbosa (1990) The Educar Foundation in Brazil: Two Experiences in Literacy Lessons.
176. Charles Wood p 101
177. Charles H. Wood p143.
178. See for elaboration Thomas Merrick and Doug Graham (1979) Population and economic Development in Brazil, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore p134. Also, Charles H. Wood (1988) The Demography if Inequality in Brazil, Cambridge University Press, New York. While there are some minor statistical disagreements between the two (Merrick puts the Northeastern population at 30.2% of the population), there is clear agreement about the issues of economic inequality, regional disparity, and racial inequity.
179. Charles Wood p71.
180. Paulo Freire (1993) Pedagogy of the City, Continuum Press, New York, Ana Maria Saul writing in the epilogue p151. Reports from recent travelers (Interview with Tommie Lee Suber 6-1-94) indicate the situation may be much worse. According to his discussions with national government officials who demanded anonymity, these figures, especially the unemployment figure, could easily be tripled.
181. Charles H. Wood p115.
182. North American Committee on Latin America (January, 1994) Report on the Americas, chapter titled, Children Dispossessed.
183. See Gilberto Freyre (1934) The Masters and the Slaves, random House, New York, for a discussion of the patriarchal history of the Brazilian Northeast--and for Freire's inspiration on his discourse in the issue of authoritarian relationships and the violence inherent therein.
184. Charles H. Wood p.159 and 139.
185. Nacla Report on the Americans May-June 1979 p6.
186. See for example James Busey (1993) Latin American Political Guide, Juniper Publications, Colorado, claiming "one-third" illiteracy, and Horowitz, Latin American Radicalism p390, claiming 50%.
187. Paul Taylor (1993) The Texts of Paulo Freire, Open University Press p161. Alinsky, a professional organizer, wrote "Rules for Radicals", and "Reveille for Radicals", considered part of the canon in the North American labor movement. A thorough-going examination of the ties of Alinsky and Freire would be interesting work. Freire's book with Myles Horton, "We Make the Road By Walking" may contain clues for the researcher attempting to demonstrate their similarities.
188. This summation of organizing tactics may be over-simplified and open to dispute. I contend it is a fair depiction of Jesuit tactics--and the tactics of anyone serious about issue-organizing. But, for the historical background: see William Bangert (1989) A History of the Society of Jesus, Norton, New York; Christopher Hollis (1968) The Jesuits, Macmillan, New York; Rene Fulop-Miller (1956) The Jesuits, Capricorn, New York.An interesting exposition of Jesuit tactics is offered in greater brevity, and with a stronger base in social history, in Nancy Bonvillian (1986) The Iroquois and the Jesuits:Strategies of Influence and Resistance, American Indian Culture and Research Journal v10 n1 p29.
189. In compiling this brief summation of two hundred years, I relied on Bertha Becker (1992) Brazil, a New Regional Power in the World Economy, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge; Gustavo Maia Gomes (1986) The Roots of State Intervention in the Brazilian Economy, Praeger, New York; Eugene C. Harter(1985) The Lost Colony of the Confederacy, Jackson State University Press, Mississippi; Robert E. Conrad (ed.) (1983) Children of God's Fire, Princeton University Press, Princeton N.J.; Emanuel De Kadt (1970) Catholic Radicals in Brazil, Oxford University Press, London; Charles Wagley (1971) An Introduction to Brazil, Columbia University Press, New York; Andre Gunnar Frank (1967) Capitalism and Underdevelopment in Latin America, Monthly Review Press, New York; Caio Prado (1967( The Colonial Background of Modern Brazil, University of California Press, Berkely; Jose Jobim (1943) Brazil in the Making, Macmillan, New York;
190. Charles H. Wood p 73-75.
191. Louis Horowitz p398.
192. See for example Beth Sims (1992) Workers of the World Undermined, South End Press, Boston, p101. CIA and AFL links are widely recognized. More than one-half of the AFL budget is spent overseas.The North American use of intelligence agencies, often through legitimate fronts, has repeatedly intervened to disrupt Freire's work for social change.
193. Horowitz p402. See also Charles H.Wood p109.
194. Horowitz p405.
195. For a thorough discussion of the event surrounding Goulart, see Monthly Review (June 1964) Brazil, Latin America, and the United States p65, and Andre Gunnar Frank, (September 1964) Monthly Review, On the Mechanisms of Imperialism and the Case of Brazil p284. For a discussion of the role of the Catholic church, see Luiza Fernandes, (May-June 1985) Basic Ecclesiastical Communities, Harvard Educational Review p76.
196. See NACLA Report on the Americas (May-June 1994) p18.
197. For elaboration, see Paul Sweezy in Monthly Review (June 1994) The Triumph of Financial Capital, v46 n2.
198. Euclides Da Cunha (1902) Rebellion in the Backlands, University of Chicago Press.
199. Da Cunha p117.
200. Da Cunha p168.
201. John Dewitt (1971) Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Boston University p34.
202. Wagley p8.
203. Dewitt p23.
204. The following discussion stems largely from Albert Hirschman (1963) The Journey Toward Progress: Studies of Economic Policy Making in Latin America, twentieth Century Fund, New York.
205. Dewitt (1971) p44.
206. Richard Gott (1970) Guerrillas Movements in Latin America, Thomas Nelson Publisher, London p300.
207. Dewitt p44.
208. Cruicksank, Mike (1986-June) Analysis of the Alliance for Progress from Within, VISTA Bulletin, Washington, D.C. See also, Christian Smith (1991) The Emergence of Liberation Theology, University of Chicago Press, Chicago p112.
209. Dewitt p53.
210. Paul Taylor (1993) The Texts of Paulo Freire, Open University Press, Buckingham England p24. AID is well-known as a funding agency for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. See for example, Victor Marchetti (1990) The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence, Laurel Press, New York, p335. Marchetti goes well beyond the predictable and crude analysis that claims all intelligence activity and the use of funding conduits is immediately hostile and witting activity on the part of all participants. He suggests that the CIA is interested in constructing carrots as well as sticks. But there is no doubt that Marchetti sees the CIA as relying, finally, on force and violence. See p14n.
211. I want to note that I use the word slave in a most hesitant fashion. It seems to me that "slave" connotes, in present usage, a certain sense of acquiescence, even complicity, on one hand, and on the other hand, it carries a sense of inevitability, like another misnomer: "holocaust". Hence, "slave" carries with it baggage that rarely denotes its twin, resistance and rebellion. I hope I make that substantive point in the text. "Chained rebel" might be a better term, or at least "captive", but I worry few readers would do more than trip over the discourse. Hence, this aside for the astute.
212. Eric Williams (1944) Capitalism and Slavery, Andre Deutsch, London, pages 172 and 190.
213. Robin Blackburn (1990) The Overthrow of Colonial Slavery, Verso, London p407.
214. Joas Jose Reis (1993) Slave Rebellions in Brazil, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore p12.
215. Robin Blackburn p383.
216. Joao Jose Reis (1993) Slave Rebellions in Brazil, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore p7.
217. Blackburn p525.
218. Blackburn p385.
219. Blackburn p531.
220. This contradicts, to a degree, Ana Freire's remarks in Pedagogy of Hope, that the souls of black people and slaves could not be saved. Ana Freire assisted in the editing of this book which contains this section which we shall encounter later, but which is so historically slipshod and apparently racist that I note it here: "Today black movements, still timid, are appearing here and there in our country." p231. I suspect Paulo Freire shall draw some rightful heat from this unfortunate paragraph which may or may not reflect his particular view. Given his grasp of resistance, one would think not. Given his occasional vision as a patron'; it is possible he wittingly included the comment.
221. Karasch p82-83.221.
222. Blackburn p384.
223. Mary Karasch, Slave Life in Rio, Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey p302 and 305.
224. Blackburn p533.
225. Karasch p298.
226. Karasch p313.
227. Karasch p20.
228. Karasch p217.
229. Reis p.127.
230. Winthrop Jordan (1977) White OVer Black, Norton, New York p384.
231. John Hope Franklin (1994) From Slavery to Freedom, Knopf, NY p.147.
232. C.L.R. James (1985) The Black Jacobins, Vintage, New York.
233. Beckles, Hilary (1984) The Literate Few: An Historical Sketch of the Slavery Origins of the Black Elites in the English West Indies, Caribbean Journal of Education v11 n1 p19.
234. Blackburn p530.
235. Blackburn p522.
236. Blackburn p520.
237. Tad Szulc (1964) Winds of Revolution, Praegar Publishing, New York p282.
238. Tad Szulc (1964) The Winds of Revolution, Praegar, New York p20. Writer Amado is the author of an interesting book, among many, on the development of political consciousness, "Jubiaba".
239. Tad Szulc (1964) The Winds of Revolution, Praegar Publishing, New York p34.
240. Szulc p34.
241. For a thorough discussion of the history of communism in world affairs, see for example, E.H. Carr (1985) Twilight of the Comintern, Pantheon Press, New York; and Fernando Claudin (1979) The Communist Movement in Two Volumes, Monthly Review Press, New York. The vision that radicals somehow are primarily self-determining, independent, unregulated, is a thesis which I find untenable, absent a sound understanding of the workings of power, but which has support among current social historians, the best of them, I believe, represented by Roger Keeran whose "The Communist Party and the Auto Workers Union" Is a profound contribution. I believe the social historian's argument is reasonably set side by the research of Theodore Draper (1980) History of American Communism, Emory University, Atlanta. The anarchist movement, rising from the intellectual ground of Michael Bakunin, deeply influenced some events in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in both the U.S. as represented by the Industrial Workers of the World and in Brazil, as we shall see in the text. However, the anarchist movement has never gained state power and the lessons from this movement are now more anti-communist than anti-capitalist. Hence, the anarchist movement holds neither the initiative nor power and necessarily responds to those who do. The same holds for the Trotskyist movement which, like the anarchists, retains an organizational and intellectual thread in Brazil and Latin america--and Grenada--but which has never held power.
242. Robert Alexander (1957) Communism in Latin America, Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick, New Jersey p40.
243. The issue of Soviet control of the Comintern, and the purpose of that control, drives much of the current debate in social history. Theodore Draper, author of the seminal Roots of American Communism, argues that control extended out from the Comintern for Soviet nationalist interests, often at the expense of potential revolutions. Claudin, author of the Communist Movement, agrees, as does Harvey Klehr, Draper's student and author of The Heyday of American Communism. In opposition, making the argument that indigenous communists were primarily self-directive, is Roger Keeran, author of the Communist Party and the Auto Workers Union.
244. Steve Carr and Ellner (1993) Latin American Left Westview Press Seabury p206.
245. Donald Herman (1973) The Communist Tide in Latin America, University of Texas Press, Austin p141.
246. Alexander p107.
247. N. Patrick Peritore (1993) Socialism, Communism and Liberation Theology In Brazil, Ohio University Press, Athens Ohio p24. It must be noted that Peritore's study is marred by his gushing adherence to the social-democratic (Menshevik) Worker's Party of Brazil of which Freire is a member. See for example, "The PT is an open, lively and exciting party" on p 106 or his own self declaration of allegiance on p.8. I have no disagreement with his partisanship and I admire his declaration of view. Simply, I disagree with his naivete.
248. Alexander p25
249. See also John W. F. Dulles (1983) Brazilian Communism 1935 to 1945, University of Texas Press, Austin; Donald Herman (1973) The Communist Tide In Latin America, University of Texas Press, Austin.
250. Peritore p112.
251. Carr and Ellner p214.
252. Paulo Freire (1981) Pedagogy of the Oppressed Continuum New York p, 120.
253. Peritore p6.
254. See for example Carr and Ellner, Freire in Pedagogy of the Oppressed, and Peritore.
255. Peritore p78.
256. Peritore p82.
257. Peritore p84.
258. Peritore p197
259. Peritore p196 quoting Leonardo Boff.
260. This is an old debate, not a new one. See, for example, Lenin (1950) What is to be Done, International Publishers, New York.
261. Carr and Ellner p239. There is a long history of complicity between the left unions and corporatist approaches to state control. For example, see Herrick Chapman (1991) State Capitalism and Working Class Radicalism in the French Aircraft Industry, University of California Press, Berkeley.
262. Carlos Roberto Horta (1992) The Union Movement and Vocational Training in Brazil, Discussion Paper Number 91.
263. Paulo Freire (1994) Pedagogy of Hope p187. Allende refused to arm the people and his party militants against the Chilean military, knowing well the control of the military ran back to the U.S. CIA. He believed he was elected and thus controlled state power--a deadly mistake. See for elaboration, Assassination on Embassy Row.
264. For a polemic complete with the historical background see Lenin (1950) What is to be Done? International Publishers, New York. For an examination of the social democratic North American Students for a Democratic Society see Alan Adelson (1985) SDS, Scribner, New York. For a discussion on the Mensheviks, Leopold Haimson (1974) The Mensheviks from the Revolution of 1917 to the Second World War, University of Chicago Press, Chicago. See also Vladimer Brovkin (1991) Dear Comrades, a Menshevik Reports, Hoover Institute Press, Stanford.
265. Interview with John Dewitt (6 June 1994). "People loved their priests but paid little attention to their more odious orders".
266. Smith p110.
267. Christian Smith (1991) Emergence of Liberation Theology, University of Chicago Press p127, 110, 141.
268. Fernandes (1985) p79.
269. Smith p141.
270. For a discussion of the reaction of the Catholic hierarchy in opposition to liberation theology, see Smith p186.
271. Dom Halder Camara (1971) Revolution through Peace, Harper and Row, New York P.59. Note that Camara remarks about democracy are written under a military dictatorship and may be ambiguously referring both to Marxists and to the government.
272. Camara p96. Interestingly, here Camara also supports the Church's position in opposition to birth control, making the argument that "ill-advised and indiscriminate contraceptive campaigns..are an insult to the dignity of the family." p97. Camara also notes his definition of "conscientizacao"--which he sees as a path toward being fully human--the word clearly being in wide use in the ecclesiastical movement. p55. See also, Camara (1969) The Church and Colonialism, Dimension Books, London. Here Camara repeats his belief in a third way between Marx and capitalism and calls for national economic development, made possible by education projects and literacy campaigns, which he believes will make possible a new humanism.
273. Camara p47.
274. Camara p47.
275. Smith p15.
276. Camara p49.
277. Camara p8 Camara makes references like this repeatedly throughout his book, at least twelve times.
278. Interview with John Dewitt. (6 June 1994). Dewitt, who shared study groups with Freire during their period at Harvard, says Freire pointed to Camara as the source of many of his ideas.
279. Gustavo Gutierrez and Richard Shaull (1977) Liberation and Change, John Know Publications, Atlanta. Gutierrez quoting Hegel, p29.
280. Gutierrez and Shaull p.135
281. Gutierrez and Shaull p184.
282. Peter Jarvis (1987) Paulo Freire: Educationalist of a Revolutionary Christian Movement, Convergence vXX (2) p33.
283. Smith p29.
284. Christian Smith (1991) The Emergence of Liberation Theology, University of Chicago Press p54. Smith makes it clear that the vanguard of priests and lay worker was a missionary force. p105
285. Smith p5.
286. John Pottenger (1989) The Political Theory of Liberation Theology, SUNY Press Albany p137 and 174.
287. Paulo Freire (1987) Pedagogy for Liberation, Bergin and Garvey, New York p.177. Freire replays the meeting in Pedagogy of Hope p127.
288. Fernandes p83
289. Paul Taylor (1993) The Texts of Paulo Freire, Open University Press, Philadelphia p22. Taylor indicates the origins of workers circles are hard to trace, going back, perhaps, to the 1820's. Taylor also indicates that the workers circles were reactivated by communist Francisco Juliao in the 1950's in Brazil as "an important catalyst in opening up new discussions about nationalism, remission of profits, development and illiteracy. p23
290. Fernandes p82.
291. Fernandes p84.
292. Smith p.108
293. Fernandes p81
294. Smith p115.
295. Paulo Freire (1990) Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Continuum, New York p33.
296. Freire Education for Critical Consciousness p9,21,24-31.
297. Taylor p14 and Dewitt p57.
298. See Taylor p14 and Freire, Paulo (1987) A Pedagogy for Liberation, Continuum, New York p28. See also, Pedagogy of Hope p210 where Ana Freire indicates Paulo planned to study law and slipped into education. p210.
299. Turning to his own testimony, in Pedagogy of Hope, Freire claims he taught high school. p210.
300. Taylor p22. and Paulo Freire (1987) Literacy, Reading the Word and Reading the World, Bergin and Garvey, New York.
301. Taylor p26. Elias p5.
302. The Cuban Model is described best in Jonathon Kozol's (1966) Prisoners of Silence. Freire's own model is indicated within the drawings and records of the project. Note the position of the teacher in the depictions of a classroom in Education for Critical Consciousness. The question of motivation in reading, according to Dewitt, is key. "Give me a motivated person with some experience and they can learn to read--through about any method". (Dewitt interview 6-6-94). It is important to underline the fact that there had been no revolution in Brazil, that the Cuban people who, rightly or not, believed they had taken charge of their lives, had a strong motivator, while the Brazilian people had no such leap in their experience. Moreover, Freire was a reformer at the time and inclined to rely more and more on experts. There are, even so, few indications he changed this approach.
303. Victor Marchetti (1981) CIA and the Cult of Intelligence, Laurel Publications, New York p20.
304. I filed Freedom of Information Act requests for Paulo Freire's FBI and CIA files in February, 1994. Both agencies rejected the requests. The appeal process continues at this date. I have also taken steps to ask Paulo Freire to request his own files. A good deal of information should be immediately available to him.
305. Freire (1973) Education for Critical Consciousness, Continuum, New York p56.
306. Elias p4. Elias does note the potential of 20,000 circles, each with 30 people, quite an impressive plan.
307. Taylor p30, Dewitt p.58.
308. Elias p11.
309. Freire (1987) A Pedagogy for Liberation, Bergin and Garvey New York, p33.
310. Elias p1.
311. Taylor p31. Learning to Question, with Antonio Faundez, adds little to the Freireian legacy and is riddled with mutual congratulation over "Chilean wine and some equally good empanadas as well". p1. Or, the repetition of "I completely agree with you Paulo..." p14. Or, more to the point, in describing his "exile" Freire stresses "how difficult it is, in a restaurant in a strange culture, to attract the attention of the waiter". p16. I found the talking books to be disappointingly uneven.
312. Taylor p33.
313. Regis Debray (1991) Teachers, Writers, Celebrities, Verso, New York p225. Debray makes a succinct case about being determining consciousness, the corollary between how one earns a living and how one thinks. Debray also offers a nice case for the relationship of top intellectuals, the universities, and the clergy--something of a reverse genealogy. p40.
314. There is some debate about why Freire is in Sao Paulo. There is a discussion of the matter in Gadotti (1994) Reading Paulo Freire, Suny Press, New York p139.
315. The absence of a sophisticated discourse about racism in his books is an unfortunate flaw in Freire which I will examine below. Given that he had at hand the power of the state, and all of its investigative potential, as the chief educator of Sao Paulo, a complete inspection of racism in the city schools would have been a significant contribution---absent in Pedagogy of the City. Freire begins to discuss racism at the close of Pedagogy of Liberation, but quickly moves away from the topic.
316. Jarvis p31.
317. Paulo Freire quoted by Jim Walker in Literacy and Revolution p126.
318. Genesis 2:19
319. Mao Tse Tung (1955) Where Do Correct Ideas Come From? in Four Essays on Philosophy, China Publications, Peking. p134.
320. Job 7:1
321. Paul Taylor The Texts of Paulo Freire p.58.
322. Gollobin p19
323. Henry Giroux writing in the Introduction to Politics of Education p.xv111.
324. Giroux in Politics of Education p.xxiii.
325. Christian Smith (1991) The Emergence of Liberation Theology, University of Chicago Press, Chicago p29-31. Smith engages an important discussion here and concludes that, at bottom, there can be no unity of Christianity and Marxism, of which Christians must be especially wary because of its seductive nature.
326. God, New Jerusalem Bible, Doubleday, New York p1994.
327. New Jerusalem Bible, p.1445.
328. NIV Study Bible John 6:45.
329. God (1985) Kenneth Barker editor, NIV Study Bible, Zondervan Publications, Grand Rapids, Michigan, Genesis 2:29 p11.
330. NIV Study Bible Corinthians (1) 4:6.
331. Romans 3:21.
332. NIV Study Bible John 13:20.
333. NIV Study Bible Samuel (1) !5:23.
334. NIV Study Bible Genesis 2:23.
335. Freire, Education for Critical Consciousness p17-18. The reference to communion is on p164.
336. Freire, Education for Critical Consciousness p140.
337. Freire, Education for Critical Consciousness p40.
338. Freire's work was initiated among peasants in SUDENE and the peasantry remains a focus of his work. The entire appendix of Education for Critical Consciousness is a primer for peasant education.
339. Dewitt indicates that Freire's entire work is summarized within Hegel's Phenomenology of the Spirit and I find his comment incisive. Interview with John Dewitt, 6-6-94.
340. Paul Taylor p50.
341. Freire, Education for Critical Consciousness p5.
342. G.W.F. Hegel (1991) Science of Logic, translated by A.V. Miller, Humanities Press, New York p154.
343. Hegel, Science of Logic p160.
344. Hegel, science of Logic p130/144.
345. Lucio Colletti (1994) Marxism and Hegel, Verso, New York p9.
346. Hegel, Phenomenology of the Spirit p.289.
347. See Allan Wood writing in The Cambridge Companion to Hegel (1993) edited by Frederick Beiser, Cambridge University Press, New York p426.
348. G.W.F Hegel (1991) Phenomenology of the Spirit, Translated by A.V. Miller, Oxford Press, New York p264 to 297. Quote is on 263.
349. Georg Lukacs (1952) Destruction of Reason, Humanities Press, New Jersey p100.
350. Alan Wood in Cambridge Companion to Hegel p434.
351. For a thorough discussion of the state in Hegel's vision, see Michael Inwood (1994) A Hegel Dictionary, Blackwell Press, New York p278.
352. Cambridge Companion to Hegel p434.
353. See Allan Wood in Cambridge Companion to Hegel p489.
354. Hegel Dictionary p70.
355. Robert Freedman (1985) Marxist Social Thought, Harcourt Brace, New York pxxix.
356. Hegel Dictionary p70.
357. Freire, Politics of Education p.94.
358. Allan Wood writing in the Cambridge Companion to Hegel p436-437.
359. Holbach and Helvetius quoted in Christopher Pines (1993) Ideology and false Consciousness, SUNY Press, New York p55,56.
360. For a discussion of these and other positions of various socialist organizations, see for example, Encyclopedia of the Left, South End Press, New York.
361. V.I.Lenin (1965) The State and Revolution, Progress Publishers, Peking p7/8.
362. State and Revolution p22.
363. State and Revolution p24.
364. State and Revolution p44.
365. State and Revolution p40.
366. State and revolution p52.
367. State and revolution p111.
368. See for elaboration Lenin's discussion on religion.
369. Robert Tucker (1992) Stalin in Power, Bantam, New York p120 and ps88/89/27.
370. State and Revolution p123.
371. State and Revolution p114.
372. I do not wish to enter the market of material attacking Stalin for all the crimes of what became, in my eyes, Soviet Imperialism. I think it is extraordinarily important to review the history in its greatest possible specificity of what have become known as Stalin's Crimes. If the struggle toward democratic egalitarianism is to be served, Stalin must not become a counter-icon, the bogey-man. I reject out of hand the wild accusations of Robert Conquest, whose scholarship is desperately clouded by anti-communism. In brief, I believe that Stalin made choices which rose from errors in communist theory, from what was Lenin's New Economic Policy to the destruction of democracy as part of the contradiction in democratic centralism. I fault him, primarily, for destroying the Soviet Party which, I think, had within it the seeds of ideas which could have directed socialism on a better course. I do not find those ideas embodied in any one person, but pieces of ideas in many people, from Krupskaya to Preobrazhensky to, yes, Trotsky. I think Souvarine's, Stalin is a beginning point to the literature. I believe Tucker's, Stalinism, and Fisher's The Essential Stalin, comprise an important documentary record. Trotsky's Third International After Lenin, is his clearest political attack. Claudin's, The Communist Movement, is an outstanding record of the results of Stalin's work. J.Arch Getty's, Origins of the Great Purges, is an important work demonstrating the flaws in much of the current hysterical scholarship about Stalin.
373. Tucker, Stalin in Power p546.
374. Isaac Deutscher (1965) Stalin, Bantam, New York p261.
375. H. Montgomery Hyde (1981) Stalin, Popular Library New York p183.
376. Tucker p541.
377. Tucker p284-285.
378. Isaac Deutscher (1965) Stalin, Vintage, New York p338-339.
379. Tucker p529.
380. For a more thorough discussion of socialism in one country, see Alex De Jonge, Stalin p201; Tucker p36-38; Deutscher p284-285. Trotsky's Stalin, deeply marred by a partisanship which goes well beyond the others, rails at length about the position of socialism in one country vis a vis Trotsky's preferred permanent revolution.
381. Tucker p321.
382. Regarding Lenin and the cultural revolution, see Tucker p31; the quotes are from deutscher p294, 335.
383. Deutscher p335.
384. For a illuminating presentation of Soviet education in the immediate post revolutionary period, see Scott Nearing's, Education in Soviet Russia (1922). The discussion re: the shift under Stalin is from Adam Ulam's Stalin p390.
385. Deutscher p363. Remarkably, even the Trotskyist Deutscher is seduced by the results of Soviet education and industrialization campaigns, commenting most positively on the progressive nature of the results of industrialization and the education campaigns, despite what Deutscher documents as the human and political cost to achieve this progress. See p568.
386. On Language, see DeJonge, p465. On the negation of the negation, see Gustav Wetter, Dialectical Materialism p470, or Tucker p541.
387. Tucker p213.
388. See Tom Bottomore, Dictionary of Marxist Philosophy, Blackwell, New York p519.
389. Tucker p160/540; Deutscher p269; Hyde p213/317; Ulam p10/11/695. There are hints of elitism in Lenin's What is to be Done, but this elitism is focused on the need for a highly centralized party of professional revolutionaries, not on the idea that any single party member stands next to god.
390. J. Arch Getty's, Origins of the Great Purges, is the most thoroughly researched and believable encounter with the Soviet Terror. See also, Tucker p463; Deutscher p234.
391. Bottomore, Dictionary of Marxist Thought p310.
392. Deutscher, p530.
393. Deutscher, p270.
394. E.H. Carr (1985) Twilight of the Comintern, Pantheon, New York p4.
395. E.H. Carr, p295/355; Claudin p302.
396. Claudin p302.
397. William Hinton (1981) Fanshen, Vintage, New York p135. Hinston's Shenfan describes in detail the reversals of Chinese socialism. See also, Edgar Snow, Red Star Over China, Bantam, New York, p247.
398. Mao Tse Tung (1985) A Critique of Soviet Economics, Monthly Review Press, New York P88.
399. Roderick Macfarquhar (1983) The Origins of the Chinese Cultural Revolution, Columbia Press, New York p147.
400. Alvin and Adele Rickett (1979) Prisoners of Liberation, Anchor Press, New York p71. The Ricketts, who were indeed prisoners of the Chinese Communist party, remark in detail about their treatment which, they claim was little different than that accorded to a Chinese peasant.
401. John Cleverley (1993) Schooling of China, Allen and Unwin, Sydney, Australia p127.
402. Cleverley, Schooling in China, p217. See also, William Hinton, The Great Reversal, The Privatization of China (1991) Monthly review Press, New York p137.
403. Taylor p6.
404. In dealing with Marxist orthodoxy, Freire rarely mentions Stalin, though he does discuss unnamed "sectarians" in Pedagogy of the Oppressed, equating them with "banking educators". (p22). When Freire does discuss Stalin, he takes up this charged term in commonplace ways. Reverting to his ahistorical analytical style, Freire addresses Stalin as a criminal in Politics of Education, but then indicates that the silence of the Soviet people is a sign of the absence of their resistance. The labor camps would testify otherwise. Stalin's specific crimes are not detailed (95). Freire later accuses Stalin of being the founder of "avant-garde" political parties distant from the masses. (153). It is conceivable Freire is unaware of the positions Lenin (who we noted above Freire treats uncritically) took in What is to Be Done, his book which designed the elite party. Nor does Freire look at the other end of the historical spectrum: Cabral, Bishop, Castro, all of who Freire praises, and explain how it is that they did not or do not lead similar organizations. Freire does point to Stalin as responsible for the system of "bourgeois education" that remained in place in socialist societies, but he makes no effort to explain why this took place. It is simply explained by the reference to Stalin as a virtual Lucifer (105).
405. I am aware that the Frankfurt school has influenced Freire, as did Gramsci, Althusser and Fromm. I find, after considerable work, that discussions of the Frankfurt tendency in Marxism always return to Hegel, my beginning point here. While the work from Frankfurt has importance, if only in its influence on Western academics, I believe it is finally derivative. Hegel is the source of Frankfurt theorists, in my mind. So it is more fruitful to go to the head. For a further discussion of the links of the Frankfurt tendency to Hegel, see Martin Jay (1973) The Dialectical Imagination, A History of the Frankfurt School, Little Brown, Boston, Chapter Three. As an interesting side, note the unproblematized role of Richard Sorge in the Frankfurt school, p12.
406. "History as a process of human events..." is from Education for Critical Consciousness, p147. His discussion on class in Pedagogy in Process is on p8. In Pedagogy of Hope, Freire indicates class is not the motor of history on p91/93. He does indicate class is a useful tool, but not the over-arching explanation, on p187/198. Marx attacks the concept of history in which "increasingly abstract ideas hold sway, ie., ideas which increasingly take on the form of universality", in The German Ideology, Marx and Engels Reader, edited by Robert Tucker, p175.
407. Pedagogy in Process p8.
408. Politics of education P136/139.
409. Freire goes into Hegel's discourse about the Master and the Slave with some frequency (see Taylor p50).
410. Mao Tse Tung (1968) Little Red Book, Foreign Language Press Peking p62.
411. Pedagogy of Hope p172.
412. Marilyn Young (1991) Vietnam Wars,Harper Collins, New York, p2-8, on Ho Chi Minh; see Peter Macdonald (1991) Giap, Harper Row, New York, p124 for discussion on methods of leadership; for discussion of the depth of will of the people, which is surely a key element in war, see Jules Roy (1990) The Battle of Dien Bien Phu, Carrol and Grant History, New York p125. For a specific reference from ethnographic-historians of war on styles of leadership and the motivation of the people, see Michael Lee Lanning and Dan Cragg (1994) Inside the VC and the NVA, Ballantine Books, New York p38. Interestingly, the NVA carried on extensive literacy-cultural activities studied later by the Rand Corporation, Lanning and Cragg p66.
413. Pedagogy of the Oppressed p132/77/164. Anyone who has visited Cuba and seen Castro speak, as I did on three occasions, in 1969, 1974, 1977, is acutely aware of Castro's demagogical style, haranguing masses of people--many of them government employees--for hours on end. There is no question that Castro is a brilliant speaker, a genius at survival and important as an example of the many turns within nationalism--and has the support of the people. But Castro, whose revolution has always been top-down, is hardly dialogical. See Karen Wald (1977) Inside Cuba Today, Progress Publishers, New York, for a friendly description of the Cuban party's activity.
414. For discussion see, Pedagogy of the Oppressed p117. Quote is from, Education for Critical Consciousness p46.
415. Taylor p42/44/47.
416. Education for Critical Consciousness p73.
417. Pedagogy of the Oppressed p124.
418. Pedagogy of the Oppressed p63.
419. Mao tse Tung (1967) On Practice, an essay on Four Essays on Philosophy, Foreign language press, Peking p74.
420. Dehumanization from Pedagogy of the Oppressed, p29.
421. Pedagogy of Hope, 123/137
422. Education for Critical Consciousness p47.;
423. Pedagogy of the Oppressed p150.
424. Pedagogy of Hope p235.
425. Pedagogy of the City p37.
426. See Pedagogy of the City p157 for a discussion of the schools. Regarding the school buildings, see p93.
427. Pedagogy of the Oppressed p132.
428. Re: the necessity of a party, see Pedagogy of the Oppressed p147.
429. Pedagogy of the Oppressed p121/114/137.
430. "Lucid Vanguard" is from Politics of Education p41.; the latter from We Make this Road by Walking p111.
431. Pedagogy of Hope p117.
432. Pedagogy in Process p103;Taylor p38,40.
433. Education for Critical Consciousness p18/23/24132. In education for Critical Consciousness, Freire indulges in some magical thinking of his own: "the more we observe the behavior patterns and thought-habits of the peasants, the more we can conclude that in certain areas...they come so close to the natural world that they feel more part of this world than transformers of the world. There exists between them and their natural world (and obviously their cultural world) a strong 'umbilical cord' which binds them...(and causes them to suffer) a mistaken apprehension of what links one fact to another." p105. Freire does not work through how this umbilical link might apply to the industrial working class, or the clergy.
434. Pedagogy for liberation p166.
435. This primarily nationalist stand has a long history, tracing back to Lenin's Imperialism the Highest Stage of Capitalism (1965) International Publishers, New York and put into practice by Stalin's Comintern, as noted, working primarily for Russian nationalist interests. See Fernando Claudin, The Communist Movement, p334.
436. Pedagogy in Process p51. Freire equates Cabral with the New jewel leader, Bishop, in Pedagogy of Hope p171.
437. Literacy p55.
438. Literacy p55.
439. Literacy p79-85.
440. Literacy p79.
441. Pedagogy in Process p112.
442. Pedagogy in Process 112.
443. Pedagogy of Hope 133.
444. Pedagogy in Process 105/113.
445. Taylor p66/70/78/135.
446. Education for Critical Consciousness p39.
447. Literacy p41.
448. Taylor p80.
449. See Saul Alinsky, Rules for Radicals, Bantam, New York, for a lengthy and descriptive work on how social change might be fomented. Interestingly, like Freire, Alinsky is criticized in organizing seminars which I have attended for never having left behind a lasting change or movement.
450. Stage theory is an important benchmark in socialist doctrine. Stage theory insists that societies must pass through a given series of steps, in ladder-climbing fashion, in order to reach a level to be considered prepared for fundamental social change. The crux of the argument is that it is not possible to skip a rung, to leap forward. See Tom Bottomore, Dictionary of Marxist Thought (1991) Blackwell Press New York p514 (entire section on Stages of Development). See also section on Historical Materialism p234.
451. The other option, to maintain (451.) inequality at any cost, is a fascist turn which R. Palme Dutt has called "Organized decay", that Dutt defines as fascism itself. Dutt's analysis, one side of a debate about the nature of fascism which was the focus of Comintern attention in the mid-1930s, is interesting in the process of its analysis. I disagree with his contention that fascism is a result of capitalist decay. It seems to me that capitalism has always survived on fascist pillars. I am saddened that the direction Dutt suggested 60 years ago is likely to be replayed in somewhat new ways. I do not believe, though, that this path is inevitable, or that it will itself endure. I think the history of the defeat of fascism is as significant as the analysis of its rise. See R. Palme Dutt, Fascism and Social Revolution, Progress Publishers, p99.
452. While there are many contributors to the theory of productive forces, only a few of them have combined theory and practice and exercised power. This group will be the focus here.
453. Marx-Engels Reader p42/43. Also, Anatol France (1961) Works, Putnam, New York p43.
454. William Hinton (1981) Fanshen, Vintage Books New York p479-481. See also case discussion beginning on 401. See also Ruth Gamberg (1981) Red and Expert, Education in the People's Republic of China, Schoken Books, New York p245/253. As an aside of interest within literacy and language, see the discussion of the revolutionary Chines move to gain greater equality by Latinizing the writing system in Edgar Snow's Red Star Over China, Evergreen Books, New York, p446.454.
455. See for example, Freire, Paulo (1971) "Pedagogy of the Oppressed", Continuum Publications, New York, or (1973) "Education for Critical Consciousness", Continuum, New York. The effort here will be helpful in addressing the more orthodox aspects of Freire, that is, his work in Grenada and throughout Latin America and Africa. While my focus will be to deal with Freire within his own framework of literacy = critical consciousness = revolution; I also hope to demonstrate that his use of a flawed paradigm could not lead to the better world he envisioned.
456. Ephraim Nimni, in "Marxism and Nationalism" (1991, Pluto Press, Boulder), makes an interesting attack on the theory of productive forces as a theoretical explanation for nationalist positions within the Marxist framework. Unfortunately, rather than perceiving the source as a problem, he reverts to the nationalism of Otto Bauer as a way out. Christopher Pines, in "Ideology and False Consciousness, Marx and his Historical Progenitors", (1993, Suny Press, New York) opens interesting possibilities through his thorough-going description of Marx's views on the ability of various ruling classes to misrepresent their narrow self-interests as the interests of the masses. His effort helped give me confidence in the possibilities for egalitarian consciousness described in the Chinese experience below.
457. I rely here on my experience of about 25 years as an organizer of unions and social action.
458. See for example: Mayo, Henry B., (1979) Introduction to Marxist Theory, Oxford University Press, New York. Mayo's fundamentally anti-communist analysis is none-the-less strengthened by his ability to lay out the key debates within Marxism, as well as his polemics originating from the right. See especially his chapters on Historical Materialism and Class Struggle for an interesting severing of politics and economics. Remarkably, the thesis-synthesis-anti-thesis chart rises first in the irrationalist work of Fichte.
459. Marx-Engels Reader (MER)(1972) Robert Tucker editor, from Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, Norton and Company, New York, p3.
460. MER, The German Ideology, p159. I note here that it is flatly bizzare that given all of the discussion of love in Freire's work, there is a utter lack of discourse about sex; the final blow to idealism I suspect.
461. MER, Contribution to the Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right, p60.
462. MER, Engels, Letter to Joseph Bloch, 1890,p762.
463. E.J Hobsbawm, in the essay Class Consciousness and History, within Istvan Meszaros' edited book (1981) Aspects of History and Class Consciousness, Herder and Herder, New York, argues that class consciousness "is a phenomenon of the modern industrial era...late to emerge.." He goes on to add that class consciousness is lived under capitalist industrialism while it is but theorized in pre-capitalist formations. While there might be some dispute about the dialectical nature (what quantities can we recognize at work early in the process that lead finally to the qualitative leap the Hobsbawm suggests) of this argument, which Hobsbawm locates in Lukacs and Marx, I have tried to demonstrate that this is now a moot point. Industrial capitalism sweeps across the entire globe. p7,8.
464. MER, Communist Manifesto, p473.
465. MER, From the Introduction to the Communist Manifesto, Russian Edition, p472
466. The question of power here relates to the relationship of the material world, the productive forces, and ideology itself as a material force. that is, the ability to mobilize masses of people around a particular vision.
467. Tucker, Robert, 1975, The Lenin Anthology, Norton, New York, p639.
468. See for example, Gueverra, Che (1969) On Guerrilla Warfare, Ramparts Publications, Los Angeles, for an interesting discussion of the relationship of leaders and the cadre and the people. Regarding the Chinese struggle for abundant egalitarianism see William Hinton (1968) Fanshen, Vintage Books, New York p486/487/492. Lenin on the New Economic Policy is found in Robert Tucker(1975) The Lenin Anthology, Norton, New York p518-536,707-710, 503-507. For a discussion on egalitarianism as seen in China versus development as seen by Stalin, Stuart Schram (1993) The Political thought of Mao Tse Tung, Praegar, New York, p119. Here Schram argues that Mao was attempting to elevate the role of struggle and consciousness while Stalin followed a path of technological development supplemented by terror.
469. Franklin, Bruce, ed.(1972), The Essential Stalin, Major Theoretical Writings, (ESTW) Doubleday, New York. From Stalin's "Dialectical and Historical Materialism". p320. It is an interesting sidelight to this paper that Stalin, in his officially seminal article, wipes out, shall we say negates, the "negation of the negation" as a law of dialectics. Gustav Wetter explores this strategy in his anti-communist but most interesting, "Dialectical Materialism", Praegar Publishers, p312,355.
470. ESTW, p315. Stalin is more probing when dealing with an abstraction, language, then when faced with a particular social question. In "Marxism and Linguistics", Stalin argues that language is not a superstructure on the base. But, unable to work beyond a binary opposition, a thing being simply one or the other, Stalin is forced to posit that language stands outside and above class struggle. Even so, within his binary paradigm, Stalin does say, "...the superstructure is a product of the base, but this does not mean it merely reflects the base, that it is passive, neutral, indifferent to the fate of its base, to the fate of the classes, to the character of the system. On the contrary, no sooner does it arise than it becomes an exceedingly active force, actively assisting its base to take shape and consolidate itself, and doing everything it can to help build the new system finish off and eliminate the old base and the old classes." (from Lang, B.--1975--Marxism and Art--David Mackay Publishing, New York p81)
Marx also hinted that art, like language, might stand outside the bounds of class struggle--or that its relationship might be more interpenetrating than a binary contradiction. "But the difficulty is not in understanding the idea that Greek art and epos are bound up with certain forms of social development. It rather lies in understanding why they still constitute with us a source of aesthetic enjoyment and in certain respects prevail as the standard and model beyond attainment". (Introduction to the Critique of Political Economy--1981--International Publishers, New York, p21).
471. ESTW, 326
472. I note here that the differences between Stalin and Trotsky seem minimal when the Theory of Productive Forces is called to question. Trotsky's sense of permanent revolution (addressed most clearly, I believe, in The Third International After Lenin, is really propelled by the same theoretical base. What is debated then, is how to implement a flawed theory, and when. Rather than fundamental difference in goals or vision which, given Trotsky's behavior in regard to inegalitarian practice--for example in the army or his positions on smashing the trade unions, is unlikely; what we have is a secondary dispute. Trotsky is given short shrift in this article, then, not because he is not important, but because he is not, in my view, truly dissimilar.
473. It is probably no accident that Stalin's loss of memory about the negation of the negation took place around the same time he declared the U.S.S.R. a "state of all the people" which would need no further revolution to wend its way through socialism to communism, and that Mao's discovery of "non-antagonistic" contradictions comes around the same time he wanted to build a second alliance with the Guomindang.
474. Paulo Freire's "Pedagogy of the Oppressed" is specially clear on this issue (p121) and, remarkably, often mirrors Saul Alinsky's, "Rules for Radicals".
475. ESTW, Franklin makes this case in his introduction.
476. For a sophisticated deconstruction of a piece of the history behind Stalin's period, see for example, Getty, J. Arch (1988), "Origins of the Great Purges", Putnam, New York.
477. Lenin (1964) Against Revisionism, In Defense of Marxism, International Publishers, New York p110.
478. Ibid. p41
479. See Stanley Aronowitz (1981) The Crisis of Historical Materialism, Routledge, New York, p47.
480. Lenin, (1967) What is to be Done, International Publishers, p75
481. For a good examination of the Red Army, see Samuel Griffith's "The Chinese People's Liberation Army" or Edgar Snow's, Red Star Over China. The "Selected Works of Zhu De" describe the egalitarian practices in the red army. William Hinton's "Fanshen" and "Shenfan" illuminate the experiences of the Chinese people in liberation and counter-revolution, and contain clues as to how the counter-revolution was created. Meisner's, "Mao's China", has an interesting take on the cultural revolution which lends some credence to the idea that the GPCR was a left movement that Mao did not initiate but was able to coopt--then smash. The pamphlet, "Whither China", in my possession, offers a view of the Cultural Revolution from a self-named "Ultra-Left Commune" which claims "...the Cultural Revolution is not a revolution of dismissing officials or a movement of dragging out people, not a purely cultural revolution, but it is 'a revolution in which one class overthrows another'. Going further, they claim that in Shanghai, in January 1967, there were indications of a higher stage of people's commune: "For the first time, the workers had the feeling that 'it is not the state which manages us; but we who manage the state'. p85. The Ultra-Left Commune, while calling into question the interests of the socialist state as a new form of oppression, nevertheless was unable to get past the deification of Mao--or stage theory which insists on the need for tiny steps toward equality. But even in the "Ultra-Left" ranks there are a"few who want to proceed until communism is realized".From a more conservative angle, see Macfarquhar's "The Origins of the Cultural Revolution, Volume I and II." I found Stuart Schram's recent "The Thought of Mao-Tse-Tung" to be the best piece interpreting Mao, superior even to his earlier, "Political Thought of Mao-Tse-Tung. Starr's, "Continuing the Revolution" contains an incisive commentary of the nature of the revolutionary state. The pamphlets, "The Differences Between Comrade Togliatti and Us", "More on the Differences Between Comrade Togliatti and Us" , "Where Do Correct Ideas Come From", and "Three Major Struggles on China's Philosophical Front, 1949-64)", contained the seeds of the critique of the theory of productive forces which I pursue herein.
482. For a discussion of the sense of equality which led me to believe there is no reason to wait any longer, see, "Babeuf's Conspiracy for Equality" by Phillipe Buonarroti, translated by B. O'Brien, Reprints of Economic Classics, Augustus Kelley, Bookseller, New York.
483. From "On Contradiction" by Mao Tse Tung, quoted in "Three Major Struggles on China's Philosophical Front",(TMS), no author named, Foreign Language Press, Peking, 1973. p24
484. Mao-Tse-Tung, (1977), A Critique of Soviet Economics, (CSE) Monthly Review Press, New York p50. There is a very interesting critique of Stalin in this book, usually quieted by the Chinese historical estimate of Stalin as 60% good, 40% bad.
485. TMS p25.
486. Lenin (1969), State and Revolution, China Publications, New York p92.
487. The Chinese position on New Democracy was, in fact, a view that Chinese society had to pass through a pre-socialist stage, even after the revolution. Mao Tse Tung argued that a mixed economy under the leadership of the party would lead to socialism. See Bruno Shaw (1970) Selected Works of Mao Tse Tung, "On New Democracy", Harper Books, New York p198-208.
488. See also Georg Lukacs (1973) Marxism and Human Liberation, Dell Publishing, New York. Here Lukacs touches on the same point but does not work it through to the conclusion that I draw. Lukacs argues that mechanical materialism relegates history to the relations of things whereas history is foremost a question of relations between people. p38.
489. Cohen, Gerald (1978) Karl Marx's Theory of History, A Defence, Princeton University Press, Princeton New Jersey. Cohen's prominence as a defender of the materialist faith is recognized in "A Dictionary of Marxist Thought", edited by Tom Bottomore, Blackwell Publishing, New York 1990.
490. Cohen, p150
491. Cohen p156.
492. Laurence Harris, in the Dictionary of Marxist Philosophy, uses a chain metaphor to describe Cohen's analysis, "...the development of the productive forces LEADS to a contradiction between them and the relations of production (which 'turn into their fetters') and the intensification of this contradiction LEADS to the breakdown of the existing MODE of production and its superstructure". One link necessarily, and ONLY, follows the next. For the want of the link the revolution was lost? p204
493. See for example, Kautsky's "Historical Materialism", New London Publishers, London (1949) and Plekhanov, "The Development of the Monist View of History", International Publishers, (1974) New York. Althusser, in his efforts to interrelate superstructure and base, was also unable to break through this mechanical trap.
494. Selected Correspondence of Marx and Engels (1953) Foreign Language Publishing House, Moscow p542--their emphasis.
495. While I would not offer a case that Cuba is a socialist country within the bounds of arguing that the Cuban state is in the hands of the masses of Cuban workers, I do note that scarcity has long been a part of Cuban life and that for some time it has been politics, not cane production, which held together what remains of the Cuban revolution.
496. Michael Lee Lanning and Dan Cragg (1992) Inside the Viet Cong and NVA, Ivy Books, New York p155.
497. Colin Lankshear (1987) Literacy, Schooling and Revolution, Palmer Press, New York p199.
498. Paulo Freire Pedagogy of Hope p168,169.
499. Freire locates himself in Grenada and makes the equation of Bishop equals Cabral in Pedagogy of Hope p171. That Freire was the key educational leader who trained other educators in the literacy and education programs in Grenada is indicated on p57 of the NJM sponsored book of key NJM speeches and documents, "Grenada Is Not Alone", (1982) Fedon Publishers, Grenada, in this author's possession. In addition see, Gordon K. Lewis (1987) Grenada, The Jewel Despoiled, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore p27. The similarities between Bishop and Cabral are indeed remarkable. See Jack Mcculloch (1983) In the Twilight of Revolution, Routledge, New York p100 for a description of Cabral's more sophisticated but virtually equivalent position on the Theory of Productive Forces. Cabral, too, was assassinated: see Mustafah Dhada (1993) Warriors at Work, University of Colorado Press, Denver p47. Both books contain extensive bibliographies.
500. Paulo Freire Pedagogy of Hope. Freire discusses his work in Grenada on p170-174.
501. The very term, "invasion" as opposed to "rescue mission" is a signal to the politics of the user in Grenada. At the same time, I record the remarkable bias of the written record from Grenada. Several of the books I encountered were clearly so partisan that they had questionable value. The book edited by Michael Ledeen (1984) Grenada Documents, released by the U.S. Department of Defense, Washington D.C., purports to be a simple compilation of the documents seized by the U.S. government following the invasion in 1983. Taken as a whole, this collection is likely a real treasure trove. However, Ledeen, who was deeply involved in the Iran-Contra affair (see Mike Yard--1984--Iran-Contra, Monthly Review Press,p41) so poisons the selection with commentary, for example declaring that the Port Salines airport was unquestionably for military use, against the grain of all critique post-invasion, that his selection of documents is in question. p6. Even so, it is correct to say that the documents which are there, speak for themselves. The Westview Press publication, Grenada and Soviet/Cuban Policy (1986) is marred by calls to fund the National Endowment for Democracy (p221, 238, 248), a front for the American Institute for Free Labor Development which itself a front for the Central Intelligence Agency (see Beth Sims, 1992, Workers of the World Undermined, South End Press, Boston p25-26).Hence this note records that all commentary is partisan, and commentary on the Grenadian invasion/rescue mission is especially so.
502. I found the meticulous history of George Brizan's (1984) Grenada Island of Conflict, Zed Books, London, to be the most rewarding of several others. See p59 for the Fedon Rebellion.
503. Brizan p180.
504. See Brizan p328. Freire must have been struck by the comparison of Gairy to Vargas whose paths were so close.
505. Lewis, Jewel Despoiled p18.
506. Gordon Lewis (1987) The Jewel Despoiled, Johns Hopkins University Press, London p18. Also Peter Dunn (1985) American Intervention in Grenada, Westview Press Baltimore p6.
507. O'Shaughnesy p47. Bishop so admired Lenin that he named his son, Vladimer. Grenada Documents p16. Re:Bishop's father p81.
508. Hugh O'Shaughnessy (1984) Grenada an Eyewitness Account, Dodd MEad, New York p45.
509. James Ferguson (1993) Grenada: Revolution in Reverse, latin American Bureau, London p109. For those interested in the hair-splitting and score-card keeping necessary to weave the way through international politics, it would appear that this book leans toward the Maurice Bishop Political Movement, a front group for the Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party. The Headquarters of the MBPM is covered with SWP material. See p109.
510. Lewis, The Jewel Despoiled p192
511. See re: the friendship of Coard and Bishop,Kai Schoenhals (1985) Revolution and Intervention in Grenada, Westview Press, Boulder p23. For Coard's admiration of Stalin, Grenada Documents, p17.
512. NJM's relationship with the Socialist International is documented throughout the literature.See repeated references in Jiri Valenta (1986) Grenada and Soviet/Cuban Foreign Policy, Praegar Publishers, New York p509. Most authors are careful to distinguish aid from Cuba from aid from the U.S.S.R., a peculiar lack of attention to a simply extended funnel.
513. O'Shaughnessy p53.
514. O'Shaughnessey p85.See also Grenada Revolution in Reverse p109.
515. There are very few disputes about the nature of the coup. One summary is as good as the next. See O'Shaughnessy p77-79.
516. Peter Dunn (1986) American Intervention in Grenada, Westview Press, New York p8.
517. Peter M. Dunn (1986) American Intervention in Grenada, Westview Press, New York p8.
518. Jorge Heine (1990) A Revolution Aborted University of Pittsburgh Press p46.
519. Nicholas Dujmovic (1988) The Grenada Documents, Pergamon-Brassey's, International Defense Publishers, Tufts University, New York pxii.
520. Heine p46.
521. Valenta Grenada and Soviet/Cuban Policy p17. Bishop saw Libyan funding as pivotal. Valenta, no friend of the revolution, says there is no evidence for the claim of Soviet funding of the airport. Cubans were key to the construction and funding as well. To miss the aid chain of U.S.S.R. to Cuba to Grenada is a difficult abstraction of economic reality. It is true that there are interstices between the governments, but it is also true that in the chain, the links did not defy their source. Re: Albania, see Jan Myrdal, Albania Defiant, Monthly Review Press, New York p182.
522. Jenny Pierce (1982) Under the Eagle, South End Press, New York p290.
523. I was one of at least dozens of visitors to Grenada who were detained by Barbadian officials. My initial trip was held up for 24 hours as various officials prodded my luggage and inspected my books. When I arrived, I found most of the other North Americans I met experienced the same thing. On my second trip, Barbadian officials were even more interested in any printed matter I was carrying and tried to seize a copy of my journal. Liatt employees intervened on my behalf.
524. Sanford and Vigilante (1994) Grenada's Untold Story, Madison Books, New York p134.
525. Ferguson, Grenada Revolution in Reverse p109.
526. Jules in Critical Literacy p157.
527. Gregory Sanford and Richard Vigilante (1984) Grenada the Untold Story, Madison Books, New York p131.
528. Sanford and Vigilant, Grenada the Untold Story p127, 139.
529. Dujomvoi, The Grenada Documents p30,52.
530. Didacus Jules, a former NJM official, writing to praise the literacy campaign in Lankshear's (1993) Critical Literacy, Routledge, New York, says that "absolute illiteracy" was not really a problem in Grenada. He then indicates his sense of relative illiteracy as that being located in the peasant-worker population. Just how relatively illiterate Jules believes they might be is not clear. The appropriate inversion of absolute literacy might be better raised as a matter of relative functionality. All of this indicates that, while most (86%) Grenadians only completed primary school, there is a question in regard to the reliability of NJM's claims regarding the level of functional illiteracy. On the other hand, if the people in power believe you are illiterate and hence treat you as such, whether you are or not, is not the stigma of illiteracy still severe?
531. Notes in my possession. There are no accurate records of the numbers of teachers leaving Grenada, but this comment was made to me repeatedly. The National College was indeed training teachers, and they were indeed someplace else.
532. Didacus Jules writing in Lankshear (1993) Critical Literacy, SUNY Press, New York p136. Bishop listed three other goals: to develop critical appreciation, to improve abilities and not privilege, and to expand democracy. There is no question that in Bishop's mind, and in New Jewel practice, that these three revolved around production. Nor is there any indication anywhere that the purpose of the critique of privilege was aimed at Gairy, never at NJM. Jules is a former NJM official.
533. Jorge Heine The Revolution Aborted p103.
534. Kai Schoenhals (1985) Revolution and Intervention in Grenada, Westview Press, New York p53.
535. Tony Martin (1982) In Nobody's Backyard, Cuadernos Press, Havana p225.
536. Jorge Heine (1990) Revolution Aborted, University of Pittsburgh Press p279.
537. Interview with Desmond LaTouche, 5-12-94. laTouche is the current Director of adult education in Grenada and worked on the adult literacy programs.
538. Interview with Bernard Coard 5-12-94. Records in my possession.
539. Didacus Jules in Critical Literacy, p145-147. I reviewed a copy of "Let Us Learn Together" in Grenada at the National College. It was in a pile of magazines dating back to 1978. This was the only copy of the document I saw in Grenada. I copied the chapter heads and noted the themes and left it at the college. The librarian in the National Library stated that no copy of this textbook was available in the library.
540. Jules in Critical Literacy p149. Jules makes this comment in relation to other literacy campaigns, especially Cuba. I note that Cuba was the inspiration for the Freire model; it preceded his work and theories. Remarkably, there are few recorded successes of Freire's literacy programs. That in Guinea-Bissau had but a marginal impact, if the statistics are to be believed. Illiteracy dropped from a pre-Freire campaign rate of 95% to 88.6%, probably near the margin of error in any survey of this sort. The point here is not to demonstrate that Freire cannot teach people to read, or that phonics fails, but to suggest that his iconicization has given a great deal of weight to a part of the literacy-consciousness-liberation triad and not applied the critique that might support it. See Joshua B. Forrest (1992) Guinea-Bissau: Power, Conflict and Renewal, Westview Press, Boulder p136.
541. Anthony Payne, Paul Sutton and Tony Thorndike (1984) Grenada, Revolution and Invasion St. Martins Press, New York p112.
542. Greg Sanford and Richard Vigilante (1992) Grenada the Untold Story, Madison Books, New York p71.
543. Latouche interview 5-12-94.
544. Scott Nearing (1921) Education in Soviet Russia, International Publishers, New York p101.
545. Patrick Shannon has carefully charted textbooks and comes closest to suggesting their abolition. See (1994) Basal Readers, A Second Look, Richard Owen Publishers, New York p1. Hickling-Hudson (1988) believes the Grenadian educators did not faithfully follow the Freire model, indicating, for example, that the textbooks are directive and that the teachers trained by the PRG did not remain together as a cohesive group. Some teachers did not follow the Freire-NJM model. The vast majority did. Even so, there was no disagreement between the teachers, either those working with the program or those opposing it, that the purpose of the literacy campaign was, above all, national economic development. I believe the evidence is incontrovertible that the textbooks were indeed developed with Freire's leadership and that it made no difference whether or not the initial teachers endured as a group. Freire's own comments in Pedagogy of Hope (170-174) clearly indicate his participation and leadership. There is no hint of criticism of the textbooks from the campaign, or the campaign itself. By the time of his second visit, there can be no question that the textbooks were both created and a focal point of discussion. Given their training with Freire, it is reasonable to expect that some of the teachers attained sufficient critical consciousness to function on their own, or to independently reformulate their group. If this did not obtain, then at issue is Freire's ability to formulate serious success in critical pedagogy. To the contrary, I believe the Grenadian educators faithfully carried out Freire's plan which was fatally flawed by its inability to analyze the social reality which surrounded it, the binary of the ideology of the revolution and the reality of its social practice. What Hickling-Hudson does not raise is the possibility that some teachers, not trained by Freire or the PRG, would actively, if covertly, teach in opposition to the PRG's political messages. This did occur, as the interviews below will show. However, the respondents who indicated they themselves participated in this activity said that their efforts were unusual and isolated, apart from the mainstream which they believe was Freire's pedagogy.
546. Michael Apple, Linda Christian Smith (1992) The Politics of the Textbook, Routledge, New York p275. There is extensive analysis of the CPE and the teacher training programs in Anne Hickling Hudson (1988) Toward Communication PRaxis:Reflections on the Pedagogy of Paulo Freire and Educational Change in Grenada, Journal of Education v170 n2.
547. (1982) Marryshow Reader, Infant 1B, "Step Forward", Havana.
548. Sanford and Vigilante, Grenada The Untold Story p72. I met many NISTEP participants during my visits to Grenada. While many did complain about the NJM style of conducting classes, those same people expressed a near-wistful attitude toward Bishop and Creft. They did not feel that these two would approve of this behavior.
549. Jorge Heine (1992) A Revolution Aborted, University of Pittsburgh Press p93.
550. Re: 30% cut, see W.R. Jacobs, Grenada the Road to Revolution, Cuadernos Publication, Havana (1982) p130. This is a strident analysis from the Cuban CP's line but I believe the initial figure is correct. It was repeated to me as a policy by several people. Re: PRG income gains, See Jorge Heine (1990) A Revolution Aborted, University of Pittsburgh Press p101.I also note my experience that the best homes on the island were filled with NJM/PRG members.
551. This was a key matter of contention during my second visit to Grenada. While most people that I met still preferred New Jewel to Gairy, they felt that New Jewel leaders were taking one of the key commodities on the island, housing, for themselves. This was a visible issue, more publicly recognized than wage gaps.
552. Heine, Revolution Aborted p136.
553. I was in Grenada at the same time as Davis. The CPUSA had a strong influence, for example, on the Detroit City Council where one-time CP'er Coleman Young was Mayor. The Council routinely pressed the keys to the city on visiting Grenadians. See also Paul Seabury (1984) The Grenada Papers, Institute for Contemporary Studies, San Francisco p163.
554. The Vietnamese were training Grenadian General Hudson Austin how to deal with dissidents as the movement split apart from inside. See The Grenada Documents pxiii.
555. Heine Revolution Aborted p103. For statistical date see Heine p157.
556. Ferguson Grenada Revolution in Reverse p114. See also Seabury, The Grenada Papers p244.
557. Ibid. p114.
558. I visited the medical school on each of my visits. Through the entire period from 1980 to 1994, little has changed. Students always studied on the beach, had distant relationships with people in the community, and carved out their own area rarely to be interrupted.
559. Interview with C. James, former education official in the post invasion government, 5-12-94.
560. Ferguson (1994) Grenada, Revolution in Reverse p25.
561. There is a vast record of the documents of the NJM Central Committee which reflects the debate inside the party in relation to Bishop. There is no question that the majority of the CC opposed Bishop's actions. This does not mean, however, that at any given point they opposed Bishop. Moreover, Bishop criticized himself for the very things that the CC pointed out as his faults. See Seabury, The Grenada Papers p329.
562. Sanford and Vigilante, Grenada's Untold Story p2.
563. Sanford and Vigilante, Grenada the Untold Story p175.
564. Dunn/Watson, American Intervention in Grenada p61.
565. I found Ferguson's description of the invasion itself, in Grenada, Revolution in Reverse, to be satisfactory. See his introduction titled "Urgent Fury". In 1986, I interviewed one student who was at the medical school at the time of the invasion. He said that at the time of the invasion, one of the people the students had believed was an older student revealed himself as a member of the U.S. military and began to issue orders to them. He indicated the students felt no fear in Grenada until the invasion began. He told me that they were seized, put on a plane to the U.S. and told they had better be very grateful when they were met by reporters when the plane landed. He said the students acted as such because they feared for their lives--and careers. I withhold this student's name at his request as he still claims to fear for his safety. He is now a practicing medical doctor in the U.S. The director of the medical school initially denounced the invasion over his radio, hours later recanted. It is important to note that the medical school depends on U.S. students whose medical degrees are certified by the U.S.(see also commentary in Dunn/Watson, American Intervention in Grenada p60). There is also some collaborating evidence that CIA agents were operating in Grenada before the self-coup (see Lewis, the Jewel Despoiled p56)
There was nothing secret about the airport. Dozens of tourists were taken to it every day, given free rein to photograph, and were introduced to the Cuban construction workers. While Grenada does occupy a strategic position in the Caribbean, it appears to me the claim that the U.S. feared a major airbase there is groundless. I agree that the U.S. feared Grenada as a training ground for trouble-makers. I believe that the Lebanon embarrassment, coupled with the fact that the Reagan administration could rely heavily on racism to gain support for the Grenada attack, played a key role.
However, I also think there are indications to verify what one informant told me during my last trip to Grenada. Frank Hughes, brother of Alistair Hughes, and now a contracted communications expert for the Grenadian government told me that Bishop was beginning to deal with the U.S. He had recognized that the new airport was useless without tourists, who would have to come from the U.S. Thus, Bishop visited the U.S. and began to plan to remove Coard who had deep ties to the U.S.S.R. Hughes said Bishop met with Oliver North and Kenneth Dam of the State Department and engaged New Jewel's Norris Bain as a mutual contact for future work. This operation was blown, according to Hughes, by a mole within the CIA, Aldrich Ames (see Washington Post 2-23-94) who was later arrested. Coard, knowing about Bishop's turn through the KGB, had Bishop and Bain arrested and killed. This general line is verified piecemeal in Grenada's Untold Story, p175; Grenada Revolution and Intervention p114; Grenada Papers p152; American Intervention in Grenada p63; Grenada Jewel Despoiled p55. Coard emphatically denied this charge in my interview with him. North's office refused to return phone calls or respond to a letter. This claim would indicate Soviet/Cuban tensions in that Castro was reportedly shocked and angered at Bishop's death, Grenada's Untold Story p162. I must note that Hughes also believes there are people on Venus. However, I found the other information he gave me to be precisely on point. I could find no satisfactory answer to the question: if I take Freire seriously, who believes in God, why not treat Hughes in the same way?
566. May 1994 Interview with Coard in Richmond Prison. Records in my possession.
567. Didacus Jules writing in Critical Literacy p161.
568. Seventeen people are now in Richmond prison. Originally sentenced to hanging, their sentences were commuted to life. The following are now in the 18th century jail: Phyllis Coard, Bernard Coard, Hudson Austin, Selwyn Strachan, Vincent Joseph, Cosmos Richardson, Cecil Prime, David Bartholomew, Colville McBarnette, Christopher Stroude, Andy Mitchelle, John Ventour, Callistus Bernard, Lester Redhead, Leon James, Leon Cornwall, Ewart Layne.
569. Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Hope p174.
570. My experience in May, 1994 demonstrated that Christian evangelists are now an important factor in Grenadian life and are giving the Catholic Church stiff competition. Evangelist churches are full and over-flowing on Wednesdays and Sundays. One of the two reliable television stations in the country is devoted to 24 hour evangelist programming. Ferguson's Revolution in Reverse provides a detailed examination of the psyops squads.p44,88,99.
571. Heine (1990) Revolution Aborted p281.
572. Interview with Frank Hughes 5-14-94.
573. New York Times 3-11-94. Interview with C.James, 5-15-94.
574. Interview with C. James 5-12-94.
575. Interview with Glen St. Louis, former PRG official. 5-9-94.
576. Interview with C.James 5-12-94 for official estimate. Interview with Clarissa Charles, president of the Grenada Union of Teachers, same date, for unofficial statistic.
577. I have attempted to follow in a path charted by Clifford Geetrz (1973) The Interpretation of Cultures, Basic Books, New York, see especially p19-24. In this sense, I have struggled to accurately report and write down, immediately, the details of the conversations. I have also attended to advice offered by Harry F. Wolcott writing in Eisner and Pushkin (1990) Qualitative Inquiry in Education, Teachers College Press, New York p128-135. Here Wolcott urges the method of note taking in place and immediately following interviews, and entreats attempts to record accurately, "or at least not get it all wrong".
578. Clifford Geertz (1973) The Interpretation of Cultures, Basic Books New York p6,453.
579. Ferguson Revolution in Reverse p104.
580. In fact, the PRG had a widely discussed and widely published budget, in all areas. Mr Jones is simply incorrect on this point.
581. Paulo Freire (1989) Learning to Question, Continuum Publications, New York p38.
582. Lenin writing in "Left Wing Communism, an Infantile Disorder" in Robert Tucker (1975) The Lenin Anthology, Norton Publishing, New York p559.
583. Lenin (1964) Left Wing Communism, An Infantile Disorder, Foreign languages Press, Peking p99.
584. Regis Debray (1981) Teachers, Writers, Celebrities, Verso, New York p224.
585. Marx writing in the German Ideology in Robert Tucker (1978) Marx-Engels Reader, Norton, New York p147.
586. Lenin, Materialism and Empiro Criticism, p33.
587. Paulo Freire (1980) Pedagogy of the Oppressed p33.
588. Jorge Lorrain writing in Tom Bottomore (1983) Dictionary of Marxist Thought, Blackwell Publications, New York p248.
589. Paulo Freire Learning to Question p64,66,71.
590. Paulo freire Learning to Question p78.
591. Paulo Freire Education for Critical Consciousness p5-6.
592. Engels writing in Robert Tucker (1990) The Marx-Engels Reader, Norton, New York p648.
593. See for example Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed p114.
594. Paulo Freire Education for Critical Consciousness p149.
595. Christopher Pines Ideology and False Consciousness p78.
596. Paulo Freire Pedagogy of the Oppressed p146.
597. Paulo Freire Pedagogy of the Oppressed p145.
598. paulo Freire Pedagogy of the Oppressed p147.
599. Other than Freire's somewhat vacant discussions about racism and his failure to notice the repeated rebellions of the people of Brazil, see his discussion of "total suppression" in Pedagogy of the Oppressed p145.
600. Freire Pedagogy of the Oppressed p169.
601. Paulo Freire Pedagogy of the Oppressed p165.
602. Paulo Freire Pedagogy of the oppressed p169.
603. Freire Pedagogy of the Oppressed p175.
604. See for example Freire's discussion of sadistic love based on commodity fetishism in Pedagogy of the Oppressed p45, as opposed to his notion of love for the people as expressed by Che Guevara, p77.
605. Freire Pedagogy of the Oppressed p124,177.
606. Freire Pedagogy of the Oppressed p185.
607. Paulo Freire Learning to Question p84.
608. Paulo Freire Pedagogy of Hope p91,96.
609. Georg Lukacs (1973) Marxism and Human Liberation, Delta Books, New York p35.
610. Interview with John Dewitt, 8-8-89.
611. Freire here relies on Erich Fromm who saw society first composed of individuals, then social systems. See Erich Fromm (1941) Escape From Freedom, Holt, New York p9. Fromm became distracted by his own abstractions of the concepts of love, freedom, and humanity, but did contribute to Freire's profound sense of the need for mutuality between the oppressed and change agents, between teachers and students. See Pedagogy of the Oppressed p45,55.
612. paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Hope p51.
613. Georg Lukacs writing in Marxism and Human
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