Education And Consciousness Under Techno Feudalism – OpEd


Education stands on the twin pillars of essentialist and emancipatory consciousness. Education, in terms of skills, qualifications, grades, marks, and employability, reflects the essentialist criteria of consciousness, which are crucial for meeting the everyday requirements of human life and ensuring a dignified living. It plays a vital role in helping individuals recover from poverty, homelessness, hunger, and illiteracy.

The emancipatory consciousness within education addresses these essential needs while also aspiring to higher goals. It aims to create a society free from all forms of exploitation, inequality, and discrimination, including those based on gender, race, caste, and other social divisions. By fostering critical thinking and promoting values of justice and equality, emancipatory education empowers individuals to challenge oppressive structures and work towards a more just and equitable world. This dual focus ensures that education not only equips people with the tools needed for personal survival and success but also nurtures a commitment to collective well-being and social transformation.

Mere qualifications defined by certificates do not foster emancipatory and egalitarian consciousness. While individuals may be educated in terms of formal credentials, their social and moral consciousness often falls to a low point in their everyday practice. Education, in many cases, breeds hypocrites of various kinds. Many educated and well-qualified individuals are reactionary and uncivilised in their behaviours, celebrating and upholding regressive values.

The number of such individuals and the prevalence of an essentialist trend within education are growing. Educational institutions, curriculum developers, and teachers have largely failed to instil emancipatory ideals within their learning and teaching practices. The focus on the essentialist aspects of education, such as skills development for employability, has been prioritised to meet the demands of the burgeoning techno-feudal markets and their idle capitalist masters. These masters live off rent without producing any real social value or meaningful commodities for society.

As a result, the educational system increasingly caters to the needs of a techno-feudal economy, emphasising practical skills for economic survival while neglecting the development of critical thinking and social consciousness. This shift has contributed to a society where educational attainment does not necessarily translate to enlightened or progressive thought, but rather to the perpetuation of existing power structures and inequalities based on reactionary and immoral ideals. 

In the age of techno-feudalism, the rent-seeking nature of various political, social, and cultural institutions, systems, and processes has become pervasive. This has fostered a culture where individuals, families, and religious denominations operate like rent-extracting machines in their most brutal form, devoid of accountability, responsibility, and human concern. In these processes, relationships between and among individuals and various interpersonal interactions have become transactional, dominated by self-pleasure and self-preservation at every step of human life. This phenomenon has been accelerated by digital media, social media, and traditional celebrity culture, where an individual’s success and failure are determined by the power of money.

Many of these celebrities are school dropouts or have never attended an educational institution, yet they serve as brand ambassadors of techno-feudalism and its ideals in everyday consumerism, defined by both tangible and intangible commodity consumption. These celebrities, as purveyors of techno-feudal dreams, often celebrate low grades or failure in their school or college examinations as if they were achievements. In doing so, they leverage their celebrity status to undermine education and human consciousness grounded in science, reason, rationality, and secularism. This celebration of ignorance perpetuates a cycle where education and critical thinking are devalued, further entrenching the power of techno-feudal systems.

In such a context, it is crucial to revive the radical promises of education that can cultivate higher consciousness and skills for the progressive transformation of individuals and society based on solidarity, peace, and prosperity. Education must go beyond the mere acquisition of certificates and qualifications, striving instead to develop individuals who are not only skilled but also deeply aware of social justice and committed to positive change.

To achieve this, educational institutions, curriculum developers, and teachers need to integrate emancipatory ideals into their teaching practices. This means fostering critical thinking, encouraging empathy, and promoting values of equality and justice. Education should aim to empower students to challenge oppressive structures and work towards creating a more equitable and inclusive society.

Moreover, the curriculum should include diverse and decolonial perspectives and histories, teaching students to appreciate and respect differences while working together for common goals. Collaborative projects, community engagement, and service learning can be effective in instilling these values. By connecting theoretical knowledge with practical action, students can see the impact of their learning on real-world issues.

Ultimately, the goal is to create a holistic educational experience that prepares individuals not just for economic survival but for active and meaningful participation in society. This approach can help rebuild a sense of collective responsibility and foster a culture of solidarity, peace, and prosperity. By reviving the radical promises of education, people can work towards a future where learning is a powerful tool for social transformation and the betterment of all.

Bhabani Shankar Nayak

Bhabani Shankar Nayak works as Professor of Business Management, Guildhall School of Business and Law, London Metropolitan University, UK.

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