I started as a teacher in 1987. I began as a high school Maths teacher in Jamaica, then worked as an EFL instructor to teenagers and adults in Poland, South Korea and Thailand. I trained as a primary class teacher in the UK and France, taught primary from Year 4-6 in the UK, France, Thailand and China, and then home-schooled my own children through IGCSEs and A-Levels.
Gary John Ilines
BA Honours, CTEFLA, PGCE Modern Languages, MA International Education
I have been leading a double life.
Many of you do too.
After twenty years as a teacher and fifteen years as a parent, I realised that I wasn't doing myself or my children any favours by continuing to commit myself and my family to mainstream education. So I decided to end my career as a primary class teacher and funnel my energies directly towards teaching my own two teenage children.
Before you ask: No, I'm not a fundamentalist religious person. For good reason, this is the popular assumption many people make about home-schooling families. No, I'm not a religious or political extremist. But, nevertheless, there was indeed an irresistible driving force behind my decision to quit the mainstream of education as both a teacher and a parent. That driving force was the realisation that most of what I thought I knew to be true, as unquestionably true, was at best questionably true and very likely completely false. There were far too many people all over the world writing books, giving lectures and making movies and videos - calm, erudite, articulate and extremely well-researched people - who were bringing into question just about everything. On top of all that, I realised that the very system of education itself was of dubious origins and of even more dubious intent. I had to get us out.
And so I began to question everything.
As Aristotle said, an intelligent mind is one that can entertain an idea without accepting it, and so I began to entertain every idea I could find which challenged what I thought was true, but without necessarily accepting it - so don't assume I am a nut - including everything from a flat earth and a holographic universe to deliberate economic crashes, non-creationist alternatives to evolution, and the global Illuminati agenda. I learned a great deal and many long-held beliefs were shattered, but that raised a major problem for me as an educator and that is where my double life began. As I woke up and saw everything in a new light, I suddenly saw much too clearly the duplicitous and insipid nature of the mainstream curriculum I was planning to deliver to my children. Specifically, the British curriculum, leading to IGCSE qualifications and A-Levels, which was the one in which we were invested. The question became:
How could I teach such a blatantly self-serving, imperialist curriculum in good faith, preparing my children to be successful in these internationally-recognised (and therefore rather useful) qualifications, while at the same time sharing with them my daily revelations and gathering understanding of what is really going on in this world?
What follows is a two-part discourse discussing the problems and potential solutions of living the double life of 1) truth-seeking and wishing your children or students to grow up knowing the truth and not having their heads filled with nonsense, while 2) at the same time giving them the option to participate in mainstream life should they chose to or need to.
I hope this discourse will be of interest to a number of different people as follows. To those parents whose children appear to be struggling or failing at school, allow me to suggest that the problem quite likely does not lie with your child. To those parents who feel that their child is receiving an education which is fine, just fine, because their exams and grades are pleasing, give me the opportunity to show you why you may be wrong because so much of what your child is learning to successfully regurgitate is nonsense. To those parents who are already awake or waking up to the true, insidious nature of mainstream education and who have wisely removed their children or who are considering the home education option - assuming it is still a legal option where you live - I hope this discourse will help you navigate the choppy waters between the beaches of truth and the jagged rocks of off-the-shelf curricula. And finally, to those free-thinkers and truth-seekers who are practicing in the classroom, I reach out to you. Perhaps this discourse will help you see the distortion in what you are being guided or even forced to teach and show you ways that the truth and good exam results may be reconciled.
But first of all, before we can start to change education for the better, as educators and parents, we need the tools and insight to recognize the methods used by which curricula are twisted to serve those who write it. Fortunately, the blessings of creativity have been endowed on our side, the good guys, and these nefarious techniques employed by those who would fool and manipulate us are blatant, repetitive and with a little practice not hard to spot. In Part 1, then, I will investigate these techniques of distortion and mind control which are manifested in the agenda of the curricula,, focussing specifically as examples on the academic areas of History, Biology and Economics as presented in the IGCSE curriculum.
Once these distortions and in some cases, let me say it, outright lies, have been exposed, as parents and educators we then face the much more challenging task of reconciling our goals of teaching the truth as well as managing to cover the curriculum because we still live in a world where we are in a small minority. So in Part 2, I will give general and specific guidance as to how this might be achieved.
PART 1 - SPOTTING THE WEEDS FOR THE TREES
Hunting the truth is an art. We blunder naturally into a thousand misleading generalizations and false processes. Yet there is hardly any intelligent mental training done in the schools of the world to-day. We have to learn this art, if we are to practise it at all. Our schoolteachers have had no proper training themselves, they miseducate by example and precept, and so it is that our press and current discussions are more like an impromptu riot of crippled and deaf and blind minds than an intelligent interchange of ideas. What bosh one reads! What rash and impudent assumptions! What imbecile inferences!
- H.G Wells, 'The Open Conspiracy'
Of all the subjects which I am teaching to my children at home, Literature is the one which lends itself least I feel to manipulation by the authorities. After all, the subject matter itself is a primary source. The Department for Education doesn't rewrite Shakespeare or Chinua Achebe novels, - adding bits, changing bits and leaving important bits out - as they do with the other subjects I will discuss below. Perhaps they would if they could, but I think someone would notice. Of course, you say, they choose the set texts. This is true, but the high school teacher of Literature is free to read other works in class or ascribe them to be read at home. The IGCSE Literature curriculum requires a choice of one novel, three plays and a handful of poems, which in the course of two years leaves plenty of time to study other texts; so don't let anyone tell you there's no time!
So Literature is a relatively easy one to circumnavigate as a truth-seeking educator: Simply cover the set texts and then expose your students to a wide range of other horizon-opening works. In the past six months, I have read out loud to my children, word by word, six novels, twenty poems and two plays, including The Alchemist, Siddhartha, The Time Machine and The Pearl, all novels which fit nicely into the truth-seeker's agenda and none of which are set texts.
In this section I am not going to discuss Literature, so why do I bring it up? The reason is that, as we were reading The Time Machine I took a passing interest in H.G. Wells and came across a fascinating little book he wrote in the 1930s which made my skin tingle, called 'The Open Conspiracy'. Like me - or rather me like him, for I have no pretension to the achievements of this master writer - Wells discovered, after a long, long, arduous and apparently successful academic career, that everything he had learned was humbug and poppycock. In 'The Open Conspiracy', he describes his journey of rejecting all and starting with a blank sheet. As he writes, "I set myself to re-educate myself." What caught my attention and made my skin tingle was that he had chosen to focus on the very same three subjects which are of most personal interest to me and the ones which I have spent most time studying with my own children: Science (especially Biology), History and Economics.
H.G Wells studied these three areas in great depth, over ten years, as he describes in 'The Open Conspiracy' and produced three books, one on each subject. This was eighty to ninety years ago, mind you, but nothing much it seems has changed. What is being taught in schools today is still as far from the truth as it was then if not more so and, from twenty years as a teacher, I can confidently say that the vast majority of teachers continue to 'miseducate by example and precept' as I did too much of the time. So I would like to take up the torch from H.G. Wells, albeit self-appointedly and not as well equipped as the great writer himself, and examine the 'misleading generalisations and false processes' which are to be found in the Cambridge IGCSE curriculum.
Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it.
- Adolf Hitler
But first, some general comments and examples of how mind-control works in education.
Around the same time that H. G. Wells was having his road-to-Damascus moment in England, a man whose name will not appear in any mainstream education curricula, Edward Bernays (most famous for getting people to think of bacon as a breakfast food and making women like cigarettes by getting movie stars to wear a certain shade of green), was writing a book called 'Propaganda' and in this book he explains how a small few can manipulate and control the masses through mind-control. What is interesting to me about this book by Edward Bernays is not that the few can control the many - that obvious fact can be found even in mainstream history books. What is interesting to me about the book are these two things: 1) That the book exists at all and 2) That the book is short, a mere seventy pages or so. This tells me two important things. Firstly, that the mind control system of controlling the masses of people need not be kept secret since they are obviously too foolish to see what is in plain view; and secondly, it tells me that the method of controlling what people believe to be true is really not that hard, not if it can be explained in seventy pages.
That's good news, I guess. For the masses of people there may therefore be little cause for optimism, but if you have read thus far in this article then you are no doubt above that level. For us, then, this is good news because the methods used are simple and not especially clever or creative. They are easy to spot and with creativity on the side of the good guys, we can find ways to play the game without losing; in other words, our children can get good grades regurgitating nonsense at the same time as understanding it is nonsense. This is not ideal, but I see it as a significant step in the right direction.
In terms of the manipulation and distortion of the curriculum I am discussing, there are three categories of deceit which I wish to investigate: omission, distortion and fabrication. Through these techniques, anything can be completely transformed from truthful (or at least intellectually satisfying) into mind-manipulating, brain-numbing nonsensical sound bites. Let me give you three examples which compare what I have found to be true from first-hand research compared to the view I received through mainstream education.
Example 1: "Our knowledge of the crossover of genes during the process of meiosis and the creation of gametes known as sperm cells and egg cells shows how each individual of a species becomes unique through sexual reproduction, opening the possibility of mutation and over time the changing characteristics of a species"; this becomes "Modern discoveries of the mutation of DNA have proven the theory of evolution."
Example 2: "Over-expansion of the American economy in the 1920s following the creation of a Federal Reserve capable of independently controlling the money supply led to a credit bubble (the Roaring Twenties) and this created the conditions which enabled the Federal Reserve to collapse the money supply which caused the Great Depression"; this turns into "The Great Depression was caused by the Wall Street Crash".
Example 3: "America's resentment of Cuba after the Spanish-American War that they were unable to fully control the island and take advantage of the immense economic benefits of monopolising world sugar and tobacco production" becomes "America was worried about the presence of a Communist dictatorship in their back yard."
Now, none of things are complete and total lies, but one set of information leads to an understanding that evolution is an unproven theory, the Federal Bank manipulates markets and deliberately causes economic crashes to serve its own ends and Cuba was never a threat to America; whereas the other set of information leads to the conclusion that evolution is a done deal, markets and economies have a mind of their own which cannot be controlled and follow their own natural cycles and Fidel Castro is evil. That's just three details, but even just those three add up to two immensely different world views. Imagine thirteen years of distortion across ten academic subjects and it's not hard to understand why the world today is full of people who haven't the foggiest idea what is really going on.
For my part, I am specifically looking into the Cambridge IGCSE curriculum for Biology, History and Economics because that is what I am teaching, but I hope that what I will here reveal will be helpful in exposing any curriculum. For each of these three subjects I will give examples of each type of deceit (omission, distortion and fabrication). I will begin with Biology which I have found to be partially deceitful, followed by History which I consider to be mostly deceitful and finally Economics which I have found to be almost entirely deceitful and misleading.
LOOKING AT THE SUBJECTS
The ideology that lies behind these texts is rather difficult to define.... it does not fit usual political patterns....the texts never indicate any line of action....authors avoid what they choose to and some of them avoid main issues....they fail to develop any original ideas....they confuse social sciences with science....clouds of jargon....leave out ideas....historical names are given no character, they are cipher people....there are no conflicts, only "problems".
- America Revised, Frances Fitzgerald
Biology, obviously, is the study of life. In IGCSE Biology, students learn how to classify forms of life, how to break down organisms into organ systems, organs, tissue, cells and finally organelles. Students learn about eco-systems and how different forms of life interact.
But lurking in the background there are unanswered questions that Biology is so far unable to answer: What is life? Where did life come from? Is there a deeper reason for life beyond reproduction and evolution? Evolution and reproduction are presented as the be-all and end-all of existence but this is far from the case. Unless these questions are brought into the discussion, Science becomes no better than religions that are based upon debatable assumptions. The scientific method - questioning and trying to disprove - is sound, I believe, but the assumption that everything can be understood and explained through human observation is suspect. Students of Biology should be made aware of the limitations of the science but they are not. Through omission, distortion and even fabrication they are led to believe that science has all the answers. Perhaps the scientific method will in the end answer all questions, but until that time the limitations and the fundamental questions left unanswered (such as what are we, where are we and what are we doing here) should not be brushed under the carpet. Questions unasked are questions which will never be answered.
"[Consciousness is the] ability of a being to recognize patterns and meaning with respect to events taking place, both within oneself and in the realm in which the self exists and operates."
- Mark Passio
In the sections below on History and Economics, I discuss omissions such as the workings of the dollar as a reserve currency and the way that Nazism was financed, and without knowledge of these two things it is impossible to understand how the world economy operates and impossible to understand how Germany was able to rise from the ashes and almost achieve world domination within a decade. However, both of these omissions pale in comparison to the omission from the IGCSE Biology curriculum of consciousness, because without consciousness there would be no IGCSE curriculum to begin with and I would not be writing this article. It is the mother of all omissions.
There is no mention of consciousness in the IGCSE Biology curriculum. The word is not used. Not once. This is astounding. Consciousness is the ability to take in information and make sense of our world. It is at the very heart of what it means to be alive or to exist. Biology, being the study of life, must have something to say about consciousness, if only to say that we don't yet understand it; yet, it has nothing to say.
The truth is that Science so far has no answer to the question, what is consciousness? Science does not answer the question as to what consciousness is, let alone explain how it comes about and where it resides. By omitting to mention the existence of the phenomenon of consciousness, as well as the fact that Science has not been able to grasp the subject of consciousness, the curriculum is misleading the student into thinking that all thought and awareness is a chemical reaction which takes place in the brain via the nervous and endocrine systems in the body.
If this were true, then Science would be able to create life from scratch, which it cannot. Not admitting this fact, that in fact Biology cannot explain what life actually is and where consciousness comes from, resides and goes after death (or how consciousness ends) is a huge omission from the curriculum and misleads the student into thinking that Science can explain the processes of life, when actually Science so far cannot even begin to explain the nature of existence and the awareness of existing things of their own existence.
Distortion: Human taxonomy
By placing Homo sapiens into the primate grouping, without needing to say anymore or give justification, the Biology curriculum is able to impart an enormous implication.
However, I believe that justification and explanation is required. The classification of animals (and plants) is in general based on physical and genetic similarity, but there is also always an overlay of arbitrary human judgement. Science has decided that humans are primates, and apes, but that we are not in the same genus as chimpanzees. This is arbitrary and is based on the assumption of evolution - which is discussed in the next section. Scientists will use DNA research to show one thing - that we are primates - but ignore our genetic similarity with chimps. If the genetic formula used to clump other species into genera was used with humans and chimpanzees then chimpanzees would be reclassified as homo or we would be reclassified as chimpanzees. We are considered a different genus to chimpanzees and bonobos because of physical differences, but there are equally a great deal of physical differences between humans and primates such as having hair on the front of our bodies, much weaker muscles and different brain structure - not to mention that humans have fewer chromosomes than all other primates.
Taxonomy is a useful tool to group and study organisms, but it is also an arbitrary human decision to put one group or species in one place and not another. By presenting these classifications as written in stone, the student is led to certain beliefs about the way that life has developed which are not necessarily true.
Evolution is probably the most controversial topic in Science. It is presented in the IGCSE Biology curriculum as a fact. It is presented as a fact because, at a micro level, it is observable. In a short space of time, Mendel was able to breed peas with a certain colour flower and from this we are able to understand how phenotypes and genotypes work. In a short space of time, we can observe white moths turning into black moths, or vice versa. Darwin was able to show finches which had adapted different shape beaks according to environment.
All this is true and extremely instructive. Genetic variation can produce different genotypes and species can adapt to environmental changes. However, the leap is then made by modern Biology that this proves that all animals evolved from a single cell organism a billion years ago. It does not prove that. At best it implies it but it is not proof. There is a huge difference between white moths becoming black moths and a lizard becoming a bird, or a hairy ape with a small brain becoming a hairless ape with a massive brain. It is also not mentioned that fossil records show, not small progressions of changes, but evolutionary leaps. The homo fossil record in particular leaves many questions unanswered, such as why we were small-brained upright apes for millions of years and then suddenly big brained, then suddenly even bigger brained, and then suddenly smaller brained.
The evolution debate is presented as a false dichotomy: either you believe in evolution or you believe in a man in the sky with a big beard who made everything in six days 8000 years ago. Science is about theories and about disproving theories. Einstein spent his whole life trying to disprove his own theories. Evolution is a theory, perhaps a good one, but it is still a theory and therefore cannot be said to be indisputable. Darwin's theory was about the origin of species, not the origin of finches with different shape beaks or different colour moths. One species evolving into another is not observable and therefore is not disprovable, and therefore, if dealt with unquestioningly, becomes yet another human religion, in my opinion.
Everybody knows the expression, 'history is written by the victors' and yet the full implications of this are usually not considered. This means that there is whole other side of history - multiple sides- which are never told and that the version we are told is distorted to reflect the beliefs and values of the victors. In the context of Twentieth Century History, the victors are clearly the western nations - especially the United States, the Anglo-American establishment, and the major European nations including Germany who rose to immense economic power three times between 1901 and 2000.
Added to that, this is a History curriculum designed and delivered by Cambridge, at the very heart of the colonial establishment.
If it is true that this version of history is distorted by the victors, in this case Great Britain which in 2016 is still one of the richest nations in the world with a permanent seat on the United nations security council, we must ask what are those values and beliefs which the tellers of history would like to be passed on to its students.
Omission: The economics of Nazism
The Treaty of Versailles after World War I imposed a heavy reparations burden on defeated Germany. This financial burden - a real cause of the German discontent that led to acceptance of Hitlerism - was utilized by the international bankers for their own benefit. The opportunity to float profitable loans for German cartels in the United States was presented by the Dawes Plan and later the Young Plan. Both plans were engineered by these central bankers, who manned the committees for their own pecuniary advantages, and although technically the committees were not appointed by the U.S. Government, the plans were in fact approved and sponsored by the Government.
- Anthony C. Sutton (Wall Street and the rise of Hitler)
Students of IGCSE History will learn about the destruction of Germany in World War 1, the harsh and debilitating punishments and reparations served out by the Versailles Treaty, and the apparent failure of the Weimar Republic which led to even deeper economic ruin and hyper-inflation. In the background there is a global recession called The Great Depression for good measure. Then suddenly Germany is a nation capable of bringing Europe to its knees and almost achieving world domination. How did a country which was so economically ruined become so rich and powerful again? This is a question which is not discussed in the curriculum and it is a major omission.
Most people are aware of the connection between America's leading industrialist Henry ford and Adolf Hitler. Hitler is said to have had a portrait of Ford in his office and Ford is mentioned in Mein Kampf. It is also widely known that in 1938 Ford was awarded the Grand Cross of the German Eagle, the highest Nazi honour that could be given to a non-German. What is not mentioned is that the Ford Corporation had plants operating in Nazi Germany before and after the start of World War II - which included the use of slave labour - and that the Ford Corporation had been supplying materials including those for use in the production of weapons delivered from plants in the United States.
The American industrial complex had been investing in the German economy during the 1920s and 1930s in cooperation with lending carried out by American banks including Manhattan Chase, American Express, JP Morgan and the Union Bank which was owned by former president George H. W. Bush's father, Prescott Bush. This relationship was temporarily ended in 1942 under the Trading with the Enemy Act.
Nazi Germany was built up economically and militarily through lending, investment and technical assistance provided by the financial-industrial-military complex of The United States of America. After 1941, Germany was able to continue to run its own pyramid scheme based on seized assets and gold, plus slave labour, provided by its military conquests in Europe. When war started, the United States was able to cash in on its investment, forcibly taking back its investments and then started building up Europe again through lending and investments which students learn as the Marshall Plan.
In order to understand History, a student must know that lending money is a transfer of wealth from the debtor to the lender. When the debtor becomes unable to pay, the solution is for the lender to destroy and loot the debtor - which is what we know as war. It is like a bank repossessing a home after default on mortgage payments. If we don't understand how nations are built up and then destroyed then that is a significant gap in our understanding of world history.
Most people can remember, even decades after they left school, the dates of the two world wars, the year the Berlin Wall came down, the year of the Wall Street Crash and so on. History teachers love to draw timelines on the board and separate these events into tidy little compartments in time.
This distorts the understanding of History in two ways. Firstly, this approach gives the student of History the illusion that history is linear. It gives the illusion of linear development and evolution. We learn about, a long time ago, how people wore silly hats, believed things which are not true, came to fallacious scientific conclusions and how the masses were exploited and how their lives were horrible. Well, I've got news for you: nothing has changed, just different style silly hats.
Secondly, compartmentalising historical events into starting and ending dates dramatically distorts the truth. Wars in particular are subject to this. Take, for example, the Second World War. From the perspective of Britain, perhaps there is a case for the 1939-1945 delineation - but actually Hitler had no interest in being at war with Britain in 1939. Even official history calls it 'the phoney war'. Indeed it was. Officially, Britain entered the war because Germany 'invaded' Poland, but subsequently Britain did nothing to counter that invasion. Did Britain then send troops to Poland to fight the Germans back? No, is the simple answer. Britain waited. "Why won't they come?" famously cried Prime Minister Churchill, embarrassed because he was supposed to be at war. From the perspective of, say, Alsace or the Ruhr, the war had been on-going from the end of the 19th century. It was German, then French, then German again, then French and then German and finally French - oh, and then German. For a common inhabitant of that constantly war-torn region, for decades and decades they were either under occupation or at war.
The Chinese also do not make the 1939-1945 distinction quite so readily. Their confrontations with Japan go back to before WWI, continued apace between the so-called world wars, and didn't end there. The Korean War was not a separate entity completely distinguishable from those disputes, and indeed today the two Koreas are still technically at war while Japan and China continue to dispute territories and sovereignty.
The so-called 'Cold War' is another classic of distortion which has its roots in the 19th Century's 'Great Game' as major powers battled for control of the Middle East and India. The Syrian 'civil war' is clearly a proxy war, as were the sanctions on Iran, the continued conflict in Afghanistan and even mainstream media commentators in 2016 are now asking: Is this the restart of the Cold War? The answer I would give to the simpletons in the mainstream media is: No, because it never ended.
Fabrication: The post-colonial period
The IGCSE History curriculum covers the twentieth century. The Great Fabrication is that we are now living in a post-colonial era. The narrative tells us that Great Britain and France had their empires; the United States did its bit of empire building in the Spanish-American War; Germany and Italy had their little attempts at having an international empire; Japan had her go in Asia; then we all had a big war and became more enlightened and gave freedom and independence to all peoples of the world and suddenly the world became one big happy meritocracy.
Certainly, there were major political changes and upheavals - 'the wind of change' as it was described by UK Prime Minister Harold Macmillan. But this view of a colonial and then post-colonial world fails to take into account the changing nature also of the colonisation. It also fails to take into account the nature of the Anglo-American establishment. If colonisation means the economic exploitation of the people and resources of the poorest parts of the world by the richest, then colonisation has continued. But it has changed its nature.
At the height of the British Empire, in its former incarnation, very little military power was required. Manipulation of existing power structures and monopolisation of resources - such as by the East India Company - was sufficient to be able to drain the world of its riches and fill the coffers back home.
Things have changed, it's true, but colonisation has become much more military and financial. Today, the US, Britain and France have military bases in almost 100 different countries. The US has 179 military bases in Germany alone. But the real 'post-colonial' colonial power is derived from financial controls, bilateral foreign 'aid' to 'friendly' governments, overseas debt, reserve currencies in particular the US dollar - all of which create a playing field where it is impossible for poorer nations to get off their knees no matter how 'independent' they might be. The United Nations itself is a tool of colonialisation where the colonial nations of Great Britain, France and the US control the decision making. Queen Elizabeth II still owns one-sixth of the earth's land.
But the real power of neo-colonialism is the hidden hand of the international banking system and control of central banks. As all central banks have been removed from public ownership (see Margaret Thatcher) and then from public regulation (see Tony Blair) the question must be asked: Who now controls the international banking system? This is not a question, however, to which students of IGCSE History are exposed.
Everyone wants to live at the expense of the state. They forget that the state wants to live at the expense of everyone. Government is the great fiction, through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else.
- Frederic Bastiat
Even though I completed a bachelor degree in Economics, not one of my teachers or text books ever mentioned Frederic Bastiat and, considering some of his views such as the ones quoted above, it is not hard to see how the authorities might not want students to be aware of his profound challenges to the status quo - a man long ahead of his time. In fact, a common thread which can be found in much of Bastiat's economic philosophy calls into question the commonly-held logic of modern economics and goes as far as to ridicule many of the assumptions. One of Bastiat's most famous statements became known as 'the broken window fallacy' and this idea that breaking windows is not good for the economy (which is obvious to anyone with half a brain and a window) flies directly in the face of Keynesian economics which, since the 1930s and FDR's 'New Deal', has been used to justify government control and interference, not to mention wars. Cleverly, Keynesian theories have been presented as progressive and 'left-wing' whereas in fact they are totalitarian and have been pursued by the most un-progressive of governments throughout the world, including the governments of Margaret Thatcher. As I was growing up, the big debate was monetarist versus Keynesian economic theory which, on close examination, are the same thing: Both boil down to the buying and selling of government bonds; in other words, borrowing from the people and then making the people pay back the debt in taxes and inflation.
On the other hand, the economist Ricardo, whose economic theory of Comparative Advantage has been used for decades to unquestioningly justify keeping poor countries poor is studied by all students of Economics with great reverence. As an Economics undergraduate, I challenged the Theory of Comparative Advantage as elitist and was threatened with failure of that unit should I choose to pursue that line of debate; not much of choice, really, and I ended up having to write a letter of apology to my tutor.
Why is it that economic theories which point out the manipulation of others by the rich in order to keep them rich are disregarded and theories which justify exploitation have become orthodoxy? Well, considering who writes the economic text books, it's not hard to come up with an hypothesis. Of all the three subjects I have considered in this article - Biology, History and Economics - it is Economics which has the most direct impact on the daily lives of people on this planet. As I discuss below, the whole subject of Economics is based on a fallacy that people are greedy and must be controlled because there is simply not enough for everyone.
The Cambridge IGCSE Economics textbook begins with describing 'the economic problem'. Not 'one of the problems' mind you, but 'the problem'. This problem is scarcity. In the edition I have been using with my children, this explanation is accompanied with a picture of a giant dragon devouring the earth - what would David Icke make of that? The basic assumption underpinning this problem is 'limited resources and unlimited wants'. In layman's terms, people are naturally greedy and materialistic and there is just simply not enough to keep everyone satisfied.
I am going to take a moderate view on this one and describe this depiction as merely a distortion. The earth's resources are finite, true, but they are also largely renewable. Humans can certainly display the characteristic of enormous avarice, true again, especially when we look at the never-ending greed of the one per cent; however desires and wants are also created and encouraged. What came first, the desire to own an iPhone 6 or the advertisement for the iPhone 6? With intelligent care and design, complemented with recycling and composting, an acre of land can provide the food, shelter, clothing and medical needs for a large family forever, indeed without a great deal of effort. That is a fact which is not mentioned in Economics text books.
This economic problem is presented in text books as one to which there is no actual solution, only lesser-of-two-evil choices. Opportunity cost is taught in such a way as to create an understanding that there will always be things you can't do so you have to make sacrificial choices. To a degree that is true. However, instead students could more wisely be taught that there are only certain economic choices which make true sense and which provide true value to a society, such as providing its people with organic and nutritious food and sustainable fuel, clothing, affordable shelter and natural medicines. In 2016, we live in a world where economists tell us that cheap commodities are a bad thing and expensive housing is a good thing. Cutting down trees - a renewable energy source - is vilified while fossil fuels are used unnecessarily to create enormous wealth for certain people. This demonstrates how grossly distorted the economy has become.
The real economic problem - if there is just a single one - is the inefficient and wasteful use of resources which is created by centralised economic control - either by governments or by large corporations (and the distinction between the two is now severely blurred). One historical example in Thailand helps to illustrate this point. In the 1970s, the government of Thailand was concerned about the level of logging of teak trees. In order to arrest this decline, the Thai government declared all teak trees national property so that no one could cut one down without royal permission. What happened? The Thai people stopped planting teak because, why would you plant something that you can't harvest? Duh! This accentuated the problem and finally the Thai government was forced to reverse the decree. Since then, the people of Thailand have grown and harvested teak, it continues to this day to be a vibrant part of the economy and teak trees grow everywhere.
The real economic problem is the greed of governments and corporations who are hell-bent on maintaining unsustainable 'economic growth' to maintain their profits and this is achieved by creating artificial markets and artificial wants though manipulative advertising campaigns and credit. The only real limitation is the finite demand for useless and harmful products.
Omission: Reserve currency
It is impossible to understand how the world economy works today, keeping poor countries in debt while rich countries stay rich without producing much of value, without knowledge of the reserve currency: the US dollar. And yet, this is not mentioned in the IGCSE Economics text book. That's a huge omission.
In the IGCSE unit on international trade, a transaction between two countries is described and the transaction uses dollars. But it is presented like this: two countries exchange goods and they pay each other in a mutually accepted currency, oh, I don't know, let's pluck a currency out the air, okay, um, dollars. That's it. No mention of the fact that 90% of international trade, including almost all oil transactions, are transacted in dollars. Here is an opportunity lost by the curriculum if education were the true objective to show how high demand for something leads to a higher price. Today, in 2016, the dollar remains strong even though the US economy is in tatters and the US Federal Reserve continues to spew out dollars into the world, flooding the world economy with a currency which is increasingly based on absolutely nothing.
This is a major omission and leads to a fundamental lack of understanding of how the modern day world economy functions. Just as the history books in school will never mention that Saddam Hussein was planning to unhook Iraq's oil production from the US dollar and begin to sell in Euros - which helps to explain why France had no interest in the Iraq War. And history books in schools will never mention that Gaddafi in Libya was about to initiate a plan to launch an African currency based on gold through which African nations and beyond could trade African oil and other commodities - just before his overthrow and assassination.
The US dollar as reserve currency is the lynch-pin to the world economy and without knowledge of this it is impossible to understand how the world economy works. The USA will go to war to protect the dollar and maintain it as the world currency. I don't believe the writers of Cambridge Economics texts are ignorant of this fact - they just want to keep everyone else ignorant of this fact.
Fabrication: Invention of money
The story of money for economists always begins with a fantasy world of barter. The problem is where to locate this fantasy in time and space: Are we talking about cavemen, Pacific Islanders, the American frontier?
- David Graeber, Debt The First 5,000 Years
One of the most entertaining and amusing contradictions of economic orthodoxy is provided in David Graeber's book quoted above. Every Economics text book will describe this fantasy world and certainly as a student of economics myself it never occurred to me to question it. Yet, on reflection, the idea of a person walking around shouting 'Shoes for an axe! Shoes for an axe!' is completely laughable. In pre-money society, it is obvious and all evidence points to the conclusion that economic exchange must have been centralised within communities. This would have been achieved by a system of book-keeping and credit/debit based on tangible goods. Graeber points to the book-keeping evidenced in the Sumerian tablets and he argues that first came credit and debit, then money and finally barter - the complete opposite of what we are taught in school, which is a complete inversion of the truth. Without a centralised system in a community, any significant economic activity would have been impossible, and without a unit of value (money), barter is also extremely difficult if not impossible.
Some will now ask: what difference does it make? Well, it makes all the difference in the economic world. Economics text books, the Cambridge IGCSE one included of course, explain that money was 'invented' because of the 'limitations of barter'. In other words, money makes our life better, so money is a GOOD THING. This is a total fabrication. Economic activity was able to run perfectly well without money and could again. Money does not make our life better - for most of us. On the contrary, money leads to credit and the control and enslavement of the masses through banking and irreversible debt. As described above, the economic hegemony of the European-American establishment is only possible based on a reserve currency which everyone must have and use. If economic activity was based solely on real goods of real value, the exploitation of poor countries and poor people would not be possible. This is why Gaddafi's plan, which would enrich Africa and prevent its continued exploitation, was of such concern to the West. Without money, how could you have an entire nation, Britain, based on financial services and doing very nicely thank you? Nations producing the food and the commodities would be holding all the cards. In 2016, the BRICS nations have figured this out which is why we are seeing the beginnings of trade wars and currency wars.
I will agree though on one thing, though: the limitations of barter, which are so limiting to be utterly impossible.
PART 2 - THE SOLUTION TO THE DILEMMA
Now that we have some idea of the ways in which the curriculum is distorted and untruthful, the question is: How can we go about teaching our children and students?
There is no simple solution to this immense and profound problem. We ourselves and our children and students as we speak have been exposed to a rigorous and systematic distortion of truth through school curricula. This has been called 'education', but the problem goes much, much deeper than the fact that the world is full of people with their heads full of nonsense because, when we speak of education or 'well-educated', what we are really talking about is 'well-qualified'. This is a crucial distinction and one which is largely overlooked in mainstream literature. When we talk about having a successful education, what teachers and parents (and therefore society as a whole) are imposing upon our children and students is the need to receive a qualification which is generally (on a local or universal level) recognised. In other words, the ability to absorb the distortions and fabrications described above - as well as achieving the illusion of understanding in the absence of fundamental knowledge - is essential in order to be 'successful' in the world, by which we mean that the individual can access the basic material requirements to a degree of quality which will give that individual the feeling of relative comfort.
Or to put it more plainly, if you want to go to university and get a good job, you must do well in your exams.
This is a terrible situation in which we, as students and educators, find ourselves. If you do not see this as a terrible situation, then you have not grasped the full implications. In order to have material comfort in life, a child must successfully regurgitate nonsense. It is like judging birds on how well they can swim.
To put it mildly, this is a dilemma for those educators who are aware of the dishonesty of the curriculum. We do not want to be responsible for creating enlightened social outcasts, but at the same time we do not want to help perpetuate this absurd and harmful system.
In my view, we as educators need to be able to create students who have the best of both worlds, who are smart enough to see through the distortions and untruths but at the same time are able to play the game. In this way, each person can have the individual choice of whether or not to participate in mainstream life and, if they do participate in mainstream life, will do so mindfully and perhaps can contribute to its downfall or at least some small correction.
In this final section, I make suggestions as to how a teacher might go about finding a compromise between the two positions, so that our students may become enlightened people who are also able to make their way in an inverted world.
The truth makes more sense and it's more interesting
"Truth can never be told so as to be understood, and not be believed."
- William Blake
The major advantage of teaching the truth is that, of course, it makes more sense. The good-guy-bad-guy comic version of history which gets taught in IGCSE History classrooms where random events get perpetrated by evil monsters leaves the student confused. Teaching that Saddam Hussein had to be removed because he was killing his own people and was a threat to world peace makes no sense, especially since there is no world peace to begin with (and he was never a threat). But an understanding of the history of the Kurdish peoples and the importance of the petro-dollar brings the picture into clear focus. FDR's 'We have nothing to fear but fear itself' is a catchy sound bite, but actually explains nothing, whereas an unsustainable credit bubble created by increases in the money supply allows us to understand what actually happened.
Truth, moreover, is stranger than fiction. If there is a problem with engaging students, then the solution is right in front of us: Stop teaching them the watered down nonsensical boring nonsense and start teaching the truth - because it is really compelling! To stick with the Great Depression example, what do you think is more compelling to a teenager, that everyone panicked which caused a run on banks, or that there was a secret meeting where the world bankers wrestled power away from sovereign governments and created a system where they could control the money? What's more interesting, that FDR invested in bridge building or that he robbed the people of their wealth by fooling them into handing in their gold and then devalued the dollar?
By teaching the truth, the educator is creating stimulated students who are gaining a clearer and less confusing picture of the world. This is a major advantage.
Teach the subject
A second piece of advice I would give to the truth-seeking teacher is to not focus overly on the details of the curriculum, but focus more on the fundamentals of the subject. Here are three examples:
1) As distorted as the subject of Economics has become, the fundamental principles of supply and demand price discovery still go a long way to general understanding. So you could teach the truth about globalisation based on a reserve currency by using it as an example of supply and demand.
2) Students can learn about real science and the scientific approach by looking at alternative theories. Students can question the mainstream scientific viewpoint by investigating how much these theories stand up to rigorous scrutiny. In so doing, they may not be learning the correct answers for the test, but they are learning how to examine evidence.
3) For History, there is wealth of primary evidence which calls into question the official versions of events. By looking at primary sources which are not normally provided by the curriculum, students can learn about the importance of examining primary evidence from multiple viewpoints in order to reach a more well-rounded perspective.
Teach the 'official version'
Thirdly, don't be afraid to tell the students that this is the official version. Question it, provide alternative perspectives, but ultimately make it clear to them that this is what you are supposed to believe.
Teach to the test
Finally, make it clear to the students that there is a distinction between learning the subject and passing the test. The examiner may well be brain-washed, stupid, lazy, in a hurry, or just reading from a script. Play the game; give him the answers he is looking for; move on.
If you have read to the end: well done and thank you. This ended up being much longer than I had planned but in the end it seems merely an overview.
We owe to our children to know the truth so that like HG Wells, me, and many others, they don't get to middle age and realise their whole life has been a crazy illusion. We don't want to create paranoid conspiracy theorists, but we also don't want to create brain-dead, slack-jawed, television-addicted consumers of rubbish.
It's a mighty challenge, one in which I am currently up to my ears, and I wish you well!© Copyright Gary John Ilines.