Markets, Myopia and the Devaluation of Education

There is no deeper, more intractable rift in our supposed Western democracies than that between proponents of educational policy for our more open, traditionally ‘liberal‘ society; and their more market-fixated, if oddly mis-labelled (‘neo-liberal’) competitors.

Each can, and does, often claim both moral and practical ascendency; but, since the collapse of the Iron Curtain in 1989, there is little doubt that the ideology of ‘markets’ has penetrated and infected both, and the aggressive ‘marketisation’ of education policy has become, in Britain and the USA at least, the prime instrument of attack on the culture of the more inclusive, ‘open society’. Continue Reading »

From Russia – With Love
PublishedMarch 29, 2018 CategoryThe Hidden Dissuaders

From Russia – With Love

God! I will pack, order my plane,
And get me to England once again.

For England’s the one land I know
Where Moscow parvenus may go,
Make Kensington by ten to three,
And know there’s caviar still for tea.

From “Profiles of Our Business Greats”
© Bertie Ramsbottom 2012

In the wake of the assumed Putin/Moscow agency in the attempted killing of the Skripals in Salisbury, Simon Jenkins (The Guardian, 16 March 2018) raised the chilling question “Do we really want war with Russia?” He suggests that the prospect has certainly taken British minds off Brexit; given Theresa May a boost, and helped the defence lobby in its perpetual campaign for more money. Continue Reading »

Opening Pandora’s Box and The Empowerment of Women

Zeus – as you will know from Greek mythology – was King of the Gods; but by no means in the mould of your benign, wise, all-knowing Emperor of the Universe. As revealed, through the dark mists of time and the lugubrious annals of the poet Hesiod, he emerges as a jealous, petulant and sexist tyrant, long known as Hurler of Thunderbolts at his wayward, male creations on earth.

He was clearly a considerable pain to his long-suffering consort, the goddess Hera. Continue Reading »

Trump Joins World ‘Midas Tendency’ at Davos 2018

With that total absence of a sense of irony or self-awareness that has characterised its annual jamborees and ego-fests since 1971, 2500 of our self-styled global political and business elites are due to converge again in the rich fleshpots of Davos.

In an unconscious acknowledgement of its monumental impotence, the presiding World Economic Forum has chosen as the convocation’s theme for this year the mission of “creating a shared future in a fractured world” which might suggest a poor return, so far, from its long years of alpine ‘apres-ski’. Continue Reading »

More Chips with Everything
PublishedDecember 21, 2017 CategoryThe Hidden Dissuaders

More Chips with Everything

Taking horses to the water
   Gives no guarantee they’ll drink;
Equine modes of misbehaviour
   May be wiser than we think.
Take the white-hot revolutions
   Humans seem to hanker for;
‘Chips with everything,’ for instance,
   Just to change the metaphor.
Micro-chips were what the future
   Most of all depended on;
Unimagined dawns were breaking
   In the Vales of Silicon.
Every future was a function
   Of the messages we cram,
As with saints upon a needle,
   On to each successive Ram….

Continue Reading »
We Won’t Know Where We’re Going Till We’re There

This is the slightly odd title of one of my Bertie Ramsbottom business poems included in my 1994 anthology ‘The Poetry of Business Life’. It was heavily influenced by the curious behaviours I’d become all-too-familiar with both as a senior manager and – later – analyst of the fast globalising and politically obtrusive corporate world.

The Times they are a-Changing
   But not the old taboos
On asking where they’re going,
   Or what it’s for, and whose?

From “We Won’t Know Where We’re Going Till We’re There”
Bertie Ramsbottom © Ralph Windle 1994

Still, I suppose I was pleased, as well as surprised, to be asked by Mark Tully – long term BBC broadcaster and its India Bureau chief; but, by that time, presenter of its ‘Something Understood’ Radio and World Service series – to include a reading of it in his October 9, 2011 broadcast. Continue Reading »

Mrs May’s Magical Market Devotions
PublishedOctober 24, 2017 CategoryThe Hidden Dissuaders

Mrs May’s Magical Market Devotions

It seems that Virtue has, of late,
Not seven deadly sins but eight
To vanquish and eliminate
   To drink of Heaven’s nectar;
The most pernicious on the list,
Our leaders fervently insist,
Is one most moralists had missed –
   The evil Public Sector!

Yet none, more wickedly than this,
Drags Virtue to the great abyss,
And poisons with its Vampire kiss,
   Our economic vitals;
Nor prompts the Righteous and the Wise
To exorcise the Evil Eyes,
With fervent cries of ‘Privatise’
   To bolster their requitals.

Continue Reading »
Usury: and the Long Road Back to an Ethical Economics

Odd – that we should have, so frequently, to go back in these blogs to the basic meaning of words; though less surprising when we remember how much of the negative and cruel impact of our prevailing and long-standing neo-liberal regimes has been the hijacking of our language and the suppression and distortion of its true meanings. Trumpism is a contemporary, pre-eminent example of this phenomenon – but it has a much longer, more disastrous history (see my July 2016 blog ‘Market- Speak and the Erosion of Truth’). Continue Reading »

Lies, Post-Truths and The Power of Positive Blinking

When three books, all with “Post-Truth” in their titles, reach the market simultaneously, we may well wonder why three publishers in this competitive market place should court the obvious dangers of reader fatigue and subject over-kill.

We should add that two of the three books also boast the words “bull-shit” in their titles; and that all three authors are journalists (Evan Davis – Newsnight; James Ball – Buzzfeed; Matthew d’Ancona – The Guardian; and therefore maybe share an insider’s knowledge of what “bull-shit” is); as well as an awareness of what they term “Post-Truth” – and its familiar synonym “Fake News” – two very ‘in vogue’ buzz-words. Continue Reading »

Paying the Price: The Philanthropy Paradox

Charitable donations to UK universities passed £1 bn a year for the first time in 2015/16 reported Sally Weale, Guardian Educational Correspondent on 3 May 2017. What not to welcome, even if Oxford and Cambridge remain the biggest winners (46% of new funds and 34% of total donors)?. The total is a new high on the CASE (Council for Advancement and Support of Education) 15 year survey and, with Brexit looming, no doubt a source of joy and relief for Vice Chancellors and Conservative governments alike. Continue Reading »