23 SES 05 A JS, Democracy and Education in Performative Regimes
Paper Session Joint Session NW 23 with NW 13
Our scope is to show how Democracy has been trivialized as a concept and, more worryingly, as a mystified practice of consented servitude, which supposedly would bring it to its very end (Gil, 2014). In fact, for the emblematic Occidental Societies, democracy has, at the best, been reduced to a consumeristic way of life, under the capitalist liberal order, and the façade of a “spectularized” electoral process (Cádima, 1996; Rodrigues, s.d., Gil, 2004; Dufour, 2008). Overall, the word “Democracy” is now used to mask different forms of authoritarianism, from which nor even western societies escape from.
So being, how right was Fukuyama (1992) predicting the “End of History” and the coming of the "last man", as the triumph of Western Liberal Democracy and liberal economic capitalism? He recognizes two forces acting as main historical drives: the logic of modern science and the struggle for recognition. However, one should be aware that the former was understood as driving men to fulfil an ever-expanding horizon of desires through a rational economic process, which is totally congruent with the latter being the liberal scope that Foucault (1997) analysed as the principle and the method of rationalizing the activity of governing human behaviour in the framework of, and by means of, state institutions, obeying the internal rule of maximum economy. Hence, even the fight for recognition is putted under the scope of performativity, while Democracy itself is conceived within the liberal understanding of society and its relation with the State and governance, which in fact covers the nature of power relations rooted in the whole network of the social: a set of microphysical networks of disciplinary power across intersecting domains compelling individuals to internalize their own surveillance and control (Foucault, 1979).
At this point, La Boétie's (1975, 46) “Discourse on voluntary servitude” still could be quoted to explain the process. One must realize that the basis of our democracies is no longer the conscious acceptance of a contract defining a regimen underpinned by certain rules; we have also been lead to love our magical and numbing tyrant, although currently it is not the case of an individual one. As Gil (2014, 33), so acutely, notes
“There is no tyrant, nor a govern in particular, but several layers (political, economic, financial) that render the universal access to power indices, meaning this the very image of democracy people have constructed, the ground of consistency and attraction where citizens have to inscribe themselves. The freedom, the equality and the universality in principle, of the people’s behaviour (that use and consume what globalized capitalism offer them), constitute the conveyer through which the ‘tyrant’ (‘democracy’) now captures the forces that undergo to love what makes them tyrants of themselves. What shall this be? The very illusion of omnipotence harnessed from the smallest crumb of power.”
Hence, what is now in risk of coming to an end is Democracy as we know it.
As to the promises of democracy for schools’ systems, we see nothing but a bureaucratic centralization, allowing no more than an instrumental autonomy of power of execution through which the players only enjoy(?) a “voluntary servitude” to the neoliberal naturalized ideology of efficiency, competitiveness and merit (?) (Carvalho, 2014). We thus conclude by suggesting the possibilities of resistance while creating zones of uncertainty regarding compliance to power, namely through complaint, denounce, rejection and subversion.
Finally, in order to create a breakthrough beyond the framework of liberal capitalism, we want to suggest a deconstruction of the following capitalist principles: infinite economic growth; infinite enrichment; unregulated competitiveness; and "instrumental rationality" as the main criterium for power and merit.
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