ALL INEQUALITY IS VIOLENCE-This is a series I will be writing over the next few weeks. Each article will discuss one topic and how it relates to inequality. Today the topic is education.
There is a concentration of wealth at the top of the educational system just as in virtually every institution of this neo-liberal world. This article in Al-Jazeera describes that inequality quite nicely (The Price of Inequality in Higher Education). Inequality when viewed from within any system is apparent. However, from outside of that same system the inequality seems less apparent and the appeal of the system to improving ones life is pervasive to those who do not have access. It is a quirk of human nature that the lack of access itself can cause the appeal. It is not until one has experienced that access that one can analyze and critique the system being experienced. For those who do not have access to higher education the experience of college would seem a gift, regardless of the disparities. This is why I believe it is incumbent upon those who do have access to acknowledge the limits of what they have pursued and understand that those who have been marginalized may view them as elitist. This is no judgment, education can be a positive tool, but an acknowledgment that those who lack access view those who have access as elitist. An elite is after all only someone who has access to something that others do not. So while there is inequality within the educational system, the educational system itself is a tool of inequality.
To say that all have equal access to education is to ignore the fact that white youths of means are mostly in schools that prepare them for the capitalist pursuit of education and money. They will soon be indentured into the student debt cycle. Meanwhile, “youth of color and working-class youth are caught between re-enslavement in racist mass incarceration in the prison-industrial complex (which is fast becoming privatized), or the economic draft into the military-industrial complex-where they are ordered to kill or be killed. Students face indentured servitude to crushing debt.”
An analysis of the current educational system shows that inequality is rampant within the system and is caused by the system in the greater society. You cant honestly call all who have a college education the 1% but you can call them the 6%. Worldwide only about 6% of the population have a college education. Existing within that insulation can create a culture that furthers the agenda of the elite regardless of the actions taken by those within this bubble of privilege. Unless they are aware of the culture and actively fight it. And to say ‘I am not privileged because I am educated, I had to work to get where I am” is akin to saying “I am rich because I worked harder than others”. It is the capitalist mindset of those who have privilege claiming they are more deserving of it than others. But of course the 6% is not the 1% and whether you’re a white child of privilege or a marginalized youth, in all likelihood you will become an indentured servant to debt and capitalism. To what degree is determined by factors you have no power over, but by a system that thrives on unequal distribution of wealth and access which keeps each group focusing on each other as the problem rather than focusing on the root of the problem. Anything less than free education for all is inequality and all inequality is violence.
1. Leslie Feinberg. Workers World: Dec 20, 2012, pg 5.