Reflections On Media Reaction – UKs Priorities

A few qualifications for this post. I am not prone to hyperbole. Also I have admittedly been recently radicalised. This means that I am in an extremely useful outsider position. For one I am a newcomer to the UK, so I will see things differently from that fact alone. I also, until a few years ago, would have been a person taken in by the rhetoric and logic of the cuts now being ushered in by the Coalition. Because I was a product of my time, brought up in an Irish education system that curiously produces people who are encouraged to roll over and take whatever is pressed upon them. This may because we let our “it’ll be grand” mentality brush aside genuine injustice(unless of course it’s in anyway associated with the ‘old enemy). But that is a blog post for a whole other day.For now I want to reflect upon yesterdays marches.

Today I wake up to media variously dominated by a police agenda and the shock of the Prince of Wales’ foolish jaunt into protest territory resulting in his royal transport being scathed. And it’s got me thinking quite hard about one thing that is consistently said about this protest.

In addition to justified anger there is rhetoric on the student side of things that this is a protest of priorities: what do the people want the government to spend their money on, free higher education or various money sinks like the Afghanistan War or Trident. Or do they wish to further the neo liberal agenda by opening up education to the market totally and continue to play catch up to a neo liberal capitalism which can bring countries and governments to their knees (see Greece, Ireland, Portugal soon enough). In line with this latter agenda would be the continued aversion to bringing alleged tax avoiders like the Arcadia Group and Vodaphone into line.

These have been interesting fault lines highlighted by the student cause. But any cursory perusing of the Guardian CIF comment threads will reveal one thing: not everyone in the UK thinks alike on this, there are plenty of Tory trolls perfectly content to play along with the system as it is. Because it works for them. Thats basic human nature really, what sticks in the throat is their high ground posturing because their defending a system that has worked out for them rather than one they know and understand and would be willing to take a stand and defend.

But the gatekeepers of the media also illustrate where Britains priorities lie. It’s not in debate over where this country is going. It’s in the shock and the scandal of the yesterday, not the nuances of police activity which would be charitably described as ‘of dubious legality’.  It’s in the crisis of gallery politics among the lib dems rather than where this country is aligning itself and the social ramifications of this in 10 years time.

One final thought. What is truly worrying, given the divided state of opinion in the UK is that the government’s STEM oriented cuts which will gut the social sciences and humanities will basically remove a large percentage of the population to exposure of these teachings. If I’ve learned anything in the last few months it’s that the teachings imparted and the environment these subjects cultivate is crucial for learning to see that there is ALWAYS another way. They encourage you not to accept systems for what they are. That may be why they are so useful for innovation. But aside from that more crucial is that with less members of the populace exposed to these teachings less will identify with the questioning of political systems in a manner other than the simplistic, crayon drawing, rendition of facts that are emblazoned across the media of today.

~ by Stephen Fortune on December 10, 2010.

One Response to “Reflections On Media Reaction – UKs Priorities”

  1. “What is truly worrying, given the divided state of opinion in the UK is that the government’s STEM oriented cuts which will gut the social sciences and humanities will basically remove a large percentage of the population to exposure of these teachings.”

    One cause for optimism is that the governments attempts to further commodify education have given great impetus to radical pedagogic practice, in particular to bringing the ideas explored in universities to other contexts (e.g. University for Strategic Optimism’s lecture at a Tesco) and an emphasis on education through doing. Whether it can be sustained, and whether it can avoid becoming insular despite its nomadism isn’t clear to me at this point. But what’s happening isn’t without precedent, and that in itself might be some grounds for hope.

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