23 SES 09 B, What is the ‘Public’ in Public Education? Mapping Past, Present and Future European Educational Imaginaries
The dynamic of intense but short periods of intensive evil followed by long periods of extensive evil combine to construct “systemic evils” (Minnich 2017, 90) that end up producing what we could define, paraphrasing Foucault, as an “evil episteme”. This involves the normalisation of new truths, new ways of governing and new subjectivities in accordance with the new normative parameters produced by these two complementary dynamics. On the public policy level, this neoliberal shock treatment, always boils down to three elements (Klein 2008, 57): deregulation, privatisation and cutbacks. In this paper I aims to analyse the case of public education in Spain under the shock tactics of economic crises as a case of banal austerity that undermines the public education it purports to save. During the worst period of economic shock crisis (2012-2015), what was required in education by international stakeholders like the IMF, the World Bank, and the EU, was to consolidate both neoliberal measures and the new dominant rationality underpinning them: ‘the market saves’ justified its banal translation into everyday policies. In the catholic south, the PIGS (Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain) had to expiate their sins and austerity policies were a key instrument: discipline was needed, in the form of austerity, cutbacks, privatizations … in other words, neoliberal government (Ball, 2017). Austerity was introduced in public education as an instance of shock doctrine and from here on it became the cornerstone of the banality of evil of all public policies. Economic policy is depoliticised by making it banal and transforming it into a simple question of efficient and effective management of what is, without alternatives (Clarke and Phelan 2017, 112). Specifically, the policies of educational austerity were articulated together to produce the new hegemonic normality, inlcuding: the extension of market logics to all areas of education to the benefit of just a few through the privatization and commodification of education. A new banal, every day, habitual, technical, depoliticised, common-sensical and consequently unquestionable norm(ality) arose. A norm, a normalisation, a grid of intelligibility, a truth, a form of governing oneself and others, a subjectivity of teachers, a morality that configures what we could call, along with Ball (2017, 23), a ‘neoliberal education’ that is at the same time an anti-education since it suppresses thought. In this context, the austerity policies undermining public education are, without doubt, an instance of the banality of evil and the evil of banality.
Ball, S. (2017) Foucault as educator. Cham: Springer. Clarke, M.; Phelan, A.M. (2017) Teacher education and the political. London: Routledge. Klein, N. (2008) The shock doctrine. New York: Metropolitan books. Minnich, E. (2017). The evil of banality: On the life and death importance of thinking. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield.
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