Wednesday, May 19, 2010 10:13:43 PM
If I convince of nothing else, I hope I can advance the meme that the state, primarily, is an idea.
The word "state" is appropriate, as it is primarily a state of mind. There are various agents of the state: the president, the general, the governor, the senator, the policeman, etc. One can say these people "are the state", or that the state is the idea itself. The concept, the buildings, the people, I don't know - the state! The more one explores the state, the clearer it becomes that "the state" is not something that can be defined apodictically, but it is clear enough to analyze the effects of "state action".
Some have gone so far as to say that "there is no state", this is not true. But the common misunderstanding of the state, or I should say non-understanding, is so severe that the state, as most people see it, does not exist. And that is what these folks who say "there is no state" are getting at.
When you think of the state, what images come to your mind? A specific building? The various temples at Colombia? Images on the currency? The hallways at the education camps? Or certain authority figures? Perhaps an instructor from the education camp?
And when you saw this instructor outside of the camp, or school as it was called, did it not seem strange to you? Perhaps this instructor was buying something, just like anyone else. Many find this circumstance most queer, seeing the authority figure "out of uniform" or in this case "out of position".
All that is happening in these circumstances is that the fantasy is being removed from someone who in your mind is embedded in that fantasy. It's almost like they are part of that fantasy, not normal people, but "teachers".
If a person is great at math and has solved every problem you have ever seen presented to him, then he becomes something of an authority figure in regard to maths. He will be cited by others, and saying he is wrong about an equation will not be taken lightly. But whether he wears a particular uniform or it is a certain time of day has no bearing on his mathematical authority. His authority is genuine, integrated, emergent, it is earned.
Your projection of authority onto this math wiz is a reflection of experience with him in regards to problems, it was not presupposed like that of the camp instructor.
The idea that the camp instructor was indeed a "teacher" and not just some mouthbreather who couldn't get a real job comes from an ideology.
By ideology I mean "a systematic body of concepts especially about human life or culture". When one views the camp instructor as an authority figure simply because this person was assigned to that post, that is a result of ideology.
I would not say the authority projected onto the math wiz was a result of ideology, though this comes down to the definition of ideology. When I say ideology, I do not mean all thought. The reason the camp instructor has authority projected onto him is because the projector, the "student", has accepted the presupposition that the instructor assigned to him by the state is legitimate. He believes the instructor assigned to him by the camp managers is proper. This is not to say he likes that teacher, but he does view the arrangement as legitimate.
At the outset this was caused by the parent telling the child to listen to "the teacher". The parent tells the child to listen to "the teacher", drops the child off at "school", and the child finds himself in a troubling situation not of his choosing. His only real option then is to listen to and obey the instructor. The difficulties in this new environment are compounded by conflict between children forced into the camps.
This is partly why stories of the idyllic past and present struggles are so compelling.
After a period of time, the camps become normalized and "legitimate". Their legitimacy is reinforced by the other kids obeying the dictates of the instructors and camp managers. Developing a lore about it, even comparing their "grades" to each other, who won various popularity contests such as "class president", "prom king and queen", "captain of the team", "league champion", "valedictorian", et cetera, all serve to normalize and systematize the idea of the camps. To get people invested in the camps and not question their existence in the first place.
I am not commenting on the utility of teaching reading and writing and math. I am saying that kids comparing grades issued by instructors legitimizes those instructors. Whether or not that which they are graded on is of value is a discussion to itself.
These education camps wonderfully mimic the state generally. The same projections of authority and conformist memes that kept the "students" in line are similar to the projections and memes that keep "citizens" in line.