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Concluding thoughts

The current crisis in Europe is clearly visible through increased political violence and an intensified division (and subsequent exclusion) of certain marginalized people within our societies. European States at large seem to experience increasing difficulties in dealing with an ongoing fragmentation of the public sphere, coupled with the extreme right-wing and fundamentalist violence, repressive laws, and increased surveillance and control of their citizens. This is not the least visible in the UK, in the wake of voting itself out of the European Union, where racist violence and even ultra-nationalist-motivated murders have erupted. In Sweden, repressive laws on migration, hindering or making it increasingly difficult for families to be reunited, are implemented with a broad majority in parliament (2015), in large measure accepting the agenda set by the Swedish right-wing populist party (Sverigedeniokraterna, SD), the second-biggest party in the country (December 2019). In the USA, the President calls right-wing extremists “very fine people”; in France, the Rassemblentent national is part of the establishment; in Italy Nazis are organising themselves (Balmer, 2019); in Austria, populist right-wing politicians are in power, as in Poland and Hungary, voted into power by the people. This is to mention only a few of the many recent repressive events pointing at a racist/fascist agenda taking hold on the public domain within Europe and elsewhere.

What seems to be urgently at stake is the ver)' possibility of freedom as a necessary condition of public life; that is, the very idea of paideia as other than either overloaded with the moral law, or stripped of any meaning outside the laws of naturalized capitalism. This is very much a crisis of schooling, since the force of education is central for the continuation and change of culture, for praxis, for the possibility of pluralist democracy.

It is also a crisis in educational theory, in its inability to point out the necessary freedom required as a base for any sound idea of teaching within the plurality of the people: for arete as the embodied divinity of two, making change and newness central to culture and society. Such an educational theory of teaching must also move beyond the heavily nonnative discourses on learning and learning-sciences that flourish in various policy institutions, from the European Union and OECD to national education agencies — reinforced most prominently by psychology and the medical sciences. Such discourses are enforcing the oneness of the social and schooling as automation of behaviour, excluding the possibility of freedom and change at the centre of education.

To reclaim educational theory as educational - as the centre of culture, as its very praxis - is necessary, I have argued, to afford the possibility of forming just and democratic societies at all. That is, societies that are not oscillating between neoliberalism and fascism in their response to a world of increasingly porous national identities (inside as well as outside Europe).

It is therefore with a certain urgency that the concept of paideia needs to be re-thought through the insights that the early Sophists brought to the world: that teaching is the name of the possibility' of a fundamental and radical change for anyone, in the course of individual lives as well as in the course of culture and society.

To reclaim that teaching within an educational theory is possible, and is in a profound way to reclaim a divine life, embracing the hardships and joys of living together with others in the materiality of this world, and therefore also about the verification of an authentic public with a commitment for a possible democratic presence here and now. It is about verifying publics and counter-publics embodying the foundational diversity of the whole of the population, beyond right-wing populism with fascist and racist overtones, as well as beyond neoliberalism’s reduction of life to a competition and to economic value.

A challenge in our time, then, when it comes to education, is all about revitalizing democratic freedom as a necessary condition for the possibility of a decent life for anyone in our various societies. In chapter 6 I will extend my argument on educational theory as intimately linked to ideas of a livable life for all. 1 will also specify and exemplify what educational change entails, and expand on what I call the educational impulse, making freedom and change possible.

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