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The Divisive Gene

Despite its grip on the scientific culture of affluent societies, the reign of the gene as the supposed “secret of life” is coming to an end. The more we learn about natural systems the clearer it becomes that genes are only one class of factors influencing phenotypic development and evolution. | more…

Women songwriters' workshop participants

Singing for Women’s Lives in Chile

In an idyllic canyon near Santiago, a group of twelve women were electric with emotion from sharing personal stories and experiences, and, of course, from singing. Deep bonds were forged among participants, few of whom knew each other prior to the workshop. They were there to compose women-identified songs in a setting that alternated between individual and group composition. | more…

City College of San Francisco Teachers Protest

A Teachers Union Against Itself

Organized Labor and the Crisis at City College of San Francisco

How did a community college that had managed to serve and retain most of its student population and remain fiscally sound amid a recession and a budget crisis become the target of condemnation by accrediting authorities? The answer involves a disastrous collision of corporate education reform, administrative arrogance, and timid, undemocratic union leadership. | more…

Richard Seymour

‘Mourning and Militancy’

Richard Seymour interviewed by Michael D. Yates

There is a degree of unpredictability in politics today that presents opportunities for those who aren’t too constrained by past experience to see them. We’re seeing the possibility of regenerating a left that has previously been ground down to the scale of atoms, one that, if it adapts creatively to the coming defeats, can prepare the ground for success. But that means recognizing that the history of the left is a history of defeats; it is a history of the vanquished. | more…

Frequency Spectogram

Astronauts at Work

The Social Relations of Space Travel

As astronauts penetrate ever further into the cosmos, how are their bodies and subjectivities being transformed? While space travel remains governed by mechanisms of power and domination that tend to treat astronauts as tools, the practice of “space medicine” is now beginning to interact with astronauts’ bodies in a more multidirectional, dialectical fashion. | more…

Educational Justice: Teaching and Organizing Against the Corporate Juggernaut

Educational Justice: Teaching and Organizing Against the Corporate Juggernaut

That education should instill and nurture democracy is an American truism. Yet organizations such as the Business Roundtable, together with conservative philanthropists such as Bill Gates and Walmart’s owners, the Waltons, have been turning public schools into corporate mills. Their top-down programs, such as Common Core State Standards, track, judge, and homogenize the minds of millions of American students from kindergarten through high school. But corporate funders would not be able to implement this educational control without the de facto partnership of government at all levels, channeling public moneys into privatization initiatives, school closings, and high-stakes testing that discourages independent thinking. | more…

The Deeper Genome

The Science and Politics of DNA

John Parrington, The Deeper Genome (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015), 272 pages, $19.95, paperback.

John Parrington’s book The Deeper Genome breaks new ground in establishing a materialist understanding of how the genome works. Most popular science books on genetics have dealt with the genetic code, focusing on the information contained in our genes and the physical or personality traits this information might “code for.” Parrington instead turns his attention to the molecules that form our genomes, uncovering new research and assessing its implications for the way we think about genetics. | more…

Monopoly Capital in the Classroom

In 1964, I began my graduate studies at Cambridge University. The reading list included a book by Josef Steindl with the intriguing title Maturity and Stagnation in American Capitalism. I read it, and was immediately drawn to the last chapter, “Karl Marx and the Accumulation of Capital.” Aside from reading the first few chapters of Capital in a study group, I had not yet read any of Marx’s economic writings (predictably, none had been assigned in any of my college courses). However, that last chapter persuaded me that Steindl’s analysis aligned with what I understood to be Marx’s general vision about the “laws of motion” of capitalist economies.… This set the stage for my reading of Baran and Sweezy’s Monopoly Capital in the spring of 1966. I devoured that book. I doubt that I got up from the kitchen table until I had read it from cover to cover. | more…

Beyond Opt Out

A Broader Challenge to Corporate School Reform

As the corporate takeover of public schools proceeds apace on a global scale, so too does the grassroots resistance. In the United States…. [o]ver 600,000 parents opted their children out of the tests in spring 2015; students have launched walkouts and boycotts; school boards are passing resolutions against overtesting; and teachers at a Seattle high school collectively refused to administer a test they deemed harmful to instruction. These actions and more demonstrate the hope and promise of public schools as sites for resilience and democratic resistance, even as corporate interests tighten their grip on schools under cover of “education reform.” This article reflects strategically on the fight for public education, with a special focus on the Opt Out movement, which was recently the subject of a special issue of Monthly Review. My treatment applauds opting out as a tactic in an organizing toolkit, but rejects it as a strategy, and takes issue with the analysis of corporate school reform proffered by the leading advocates of Opt Out. | more…

Voices, Not Numbers

Towards a Greater Democracy in Education

U.S. educational policy and practice adhere to the old proverb that “children should be seen and not heard.”… Arguments for children—often made by children themselves—having voice and taking action on matters that affect their lives are rarely taken seriously.… Nevertheless, protecting children’s welfare need not exclude inviting them to speak on education issues. In some countries, such as Australia, New Zealand, Portugal, and the United Kingdom, children’s voices and opinions are considered vital…. In the United States, children’s voices are not sought out. They are most often the “objects of inquiry,”… [seen]…”as either a window onto universal psychological laws or as indicators of treatment effects. In both cases, the children themselves are simply instruments…vehicles for measuring outcomes.”… Black and brown children in particular are made into “objects of inquiry,” and are accordingly more watched, restricted, and disciplined.… Further, black and brown children, especially in poor and urban communities, have had their humanity devalued against that of children in whiter, wealthier schools. | more…