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Solidarity and Emancipation

Whereas many of the managerialist educational theories applied in management training compel students to accept the invented ideological necessities of management, they can never be part of a humanising curriculum or the working programme of those seeking emancipation. Instead, these teaching methods preserve domination while fostering competition at the expense of human solidarity.15 By contrast, communicative action dedicates itself to the tireless effort of creating solidarity and unity among those seeking emancipation in order to achieve a lasting humanisation of the lifeworld as well as people’s working lives.

Perhaps one of the core difficulties is that communicative action can never occur apart from praxis as it must remain linked to the lifeworld as well as to human solidarity. On the other side, the praxis of domination remains less difficult, perhaps even effortless for the dominant elite, given the institutional support it has in schools, universities, and workplaces as well as the ideological support it can draw on, ranging from simple propaganda to pro-business and neo-liberal think tanks as well as to corporate mass media and tabloid-TV, all of which have an interest in camouflaging the contradictions of capitalism while presenting domination as a “given fact of life”. In contrast, it has never been easy for emancipatory educators to carry out emancipatory praxis when being forced to unmask the hegemonic ideologies of dominant regimes, ranging from the domination of the feudal churches to the domination of fascistic, imperialistic, colonial, militaristic, chauvinistic, and so on regimes and to the domination of present-day neo-liberal regimes.16 Virtually all of them have been designed to destroy human solidarity. These groups were able to rely on using the instruments of violence, brutality, power, and religion, with the Catholic Church remaining the actual inventor of propaganda in 1622 when calling for the Congregatio dePropaganda Fide [Congregation for Propagating the Faith]. Today, these solidarity-destroying ideologies rely on the sophisticated support of an ideological apparatus that ranges from modern consumerism to corporate mass media and whose ideological powers are firmly directed against humanisation and human solidarity. Perhaps it is the17

“power versus knowledge”

dialectics under which Managerialism, managerial regimes, and management training have the power while emancipatory education has the knowledge. The former can organise its ideological regimes quite freely while being able to unify its ideological face very swiftly when faced with threats to its fundamental interests. Meanwhile, those seeking emancipation can never exist without students, human solidarity, or participants of a grander scale including the lifeworld.18 It is this condition that constitutes somewhat of an obstacle to efforts to humanise the lifeworld. Emancipatory education depends on the collective and human solidarity while management training does not. But the forces of domination can only ever partly rely on their own ideological powers. They also need to rely on people who they seek to entice to participate in their own domination. This is when managerial power merges with what the philosopher Zygmunt Bauman calls “soliciting the compliance of victims” and the philosopher pair Horkheimer and Adorno noted as “immovably, they insist on the very ideology which enslaves them”.19

It will always be highly inconsistent for the dominant elite to allow emancipatory educators to conduct emancipatory education just as much as it would be highly inconsistent for them to allow workers to organise in trade unions. Hence, one hardly ever finds a good word on trade unions in neo-liberal corporate mass media and managerial training institutions hardly ever support emancipatory education. At least to some extent, there will always be some sort of internal unity of the dominant elites that reinforces and organises its ideological and educational powers. It requires management training to destroy human solidarity, to divide students, and to treat them as mere objects of a training process, mirroring the denigration of human beings to human resources that defines managerial regimes. Meanwhile, solidarity among emancipatory educators and students only exists in the solidarity of students among themselves and in turn with their educators.

The real commonality of interest of the elite—profits and sustaining capitalism, power, and domination—derives from its antagonism to nature and workers inside management regimes and to students inside management training. In sharp contrast, the solidarity of emancipatory educational groups grows out of communion with people and the commonality of interest in ending domination. Meanwhile, the concrete situation of domination dualises the individualistic double identity of being an object of management training and of managerial regimes. Set against this double objectification is the fact that those seeking emancipation can critically reflect on the inherent ambiguity, contradictory character, and unstableness of Managerialism. This is a moment that can facilitate the actions of emancipatory educators by hindering domination and Managerialism.

Managerial domination as well as the domination carried out by management training regimes can itself be divisive. But reactions against domination also lead to the fact that those seeking emancipation will free themselves from perceiving reality under the hegemonic ideology of Managerialism. Such a realisation can indeed appear all too powerful and overwhelming for some. But it also comes with the realisation that some elements of emancipation remain firmly located in the reality of the life- world. It is this moral reality of the lifeworld to which all other realities— work, employment, education, and so on—must adhere. Part of the moral reality of the lifeworld is also located outside of people, at least as long as it remains under the “tutelage” (Kant) and domination (Adorno) of Managerialism. The twin ideologies of Managerialism and neo-liberalism have been invented to create mysterious forces that (un) explain the ideological powers of Managerialism and neo-liberalism and prevent understanding, for example, the mythical “invisible hand” is always called upon to explain capitalism, neo-liberalism, and Managerialism. With these ideologies in place, those who speak the language of domination are never required to deliver a sound theory and/or empirical facts.

Emancipatory education, in contrast, should infuse individuals with the conviction that they can do something about domination and neoliberal capitalism. It is the strength of these ideologies that divides people between an identical past and present of capitalism and a future without any hope of changing the course of eternal capitalism. In the neo-liberal scenario, individuals remain persons who no longer perceive themselves as becoming. Instead, they are asphyxiated in the status quo like motionless puppets on the strings of eternal capitalism. Hence, the individual can never have a future to be built. As people break the ideological asphyxiation engineered by Managerialism and transmitted by corporate mass media, the contradictory reality of capitalism starts to emerge. Upon this realisation, people can begin to create human solidarity—as conscious subjects and no longer as unconscious objects of managerial ideologies. With that, they can confront the objectifying reality of managerial regimes, management training programmes, and capitalism as a whole. This is the very moment when false ideologies can be seen, human solidarity can be created, and an individual becomes a true individual.

In order to prevent this from occurring, Managerialism and its domination-enhancing trainers will have to divide people. Divisive ideologies of domination such as old versus young, educated versus uneducated, black versus white, man versus woman, and so on remain indispensable to any ideology that sustains domination. By contrast, achieving mutual and equal recognition requires a form of cultural action through which people learn the “why-and-how” of capitalism and the true meaning of the lifeworld that is not defined by neo-liberalism’s master ideology of “the market”. This requires unmasking, de-mythologisation, and, above all, de-ideologising. The effort to create human solidarity among those seeking emancipation can never call for mere slogans, the ideological tool that distorts the authentic relationships between the subject, and the objective reality of domination.

The objectives of emancipatory education can never be to dislodge those seeking emancipation from reality in order to simply “bind” them to the ideological reality of Managerialism. The object of solidaristic communicative action is to make it possible for those seeking emancipation to opt for the transformation of an unjust reality that remains defined by domination. The solidarity of those seeking emancipation involves cohesion among participants of communicative action as well as of people of the lifeworld in general, and this comes regardless of their socioeconomic status. Solidarity unquestionably requires some level of consciousness. However, the submersion of people in faked perceptions of realities that have been deliberately distorted by the prevailing hegemonic ideologies means that consciousness is often asphyxiated inside regimes of domination. As a consequence, a student must achieve the consciousness of being an individual that has been asphyxiated by ideology and confined to existing in a regime of domination.

Proposing domination as one of the key problems in educational sessions dedicated to management might strike many students as strange. But when confronted with the unmasking of managerial ideologies during emancipatory education, students will realise the relevance of the issue of domination. The suddenness and unexpectedness of such an unmasking of domination during management education does not necessarily apply to all students entering management training programmes as many have already realised that they work under managerial regimes defined by domination. Nonetheless, both sets of students can understand that the determinants of the lifeworld usually end at the boundaries of the latifundium of managerial regimes. And this occurs even when managerial regimes are presented as natural and unchangeable by anti-emancipatory educators. People who have been made to believe that they are bound to nature as they are bound to “the nature of business” are made to perceive this as the only way to exist. It fosters TINA.

In emancipatory education, students can experience themselves as persons prevented from “being” by everything Managerialism can muster. As a consequence, discovering themselves as human beings rather than human resources and educational customers quite often means, in the first instance, to discover themselves as real people and real individuals, not just as simple “market participants”. This initial but highly emancipatory discovery implies a different perception of the meaning of “being”, of being an individual, and of personhood. Words like lifeworld, management, culture, work, solidarity, humanisation, human freedom, and emancipation reassume their true significance. Participants of communicative action can now see themselves as transformers of a reality that is no longer perceived as a mysterious entity. They can see and feel this through their creative engagement in communicative action and as fruits of their own communicative labour. They can discover that—as emancipated students—they can no longer continue to be “objects” of training processes nor assets of management as announced by the prevailing ideology of human resource management:

“People are our most important asset.”

Attempts to invent solidarity among students based on purely activist methods that rely on “catchphrases” and mere populism never deal with these fundamental aspects. They produce individuals with purely mechanistic characters and lead them to actions that are never their own. The solidarity of those seeking emancipation occurs at the human level and is never engineered from above—neither from those currently above them nor from those who falsely want to be above them and are guided by pure activism and political party ideology. Emancipation cannot happen at the level of things, only at the level of the individual engaged in human solidarity. The process of emancipatory education always occurs in a reality that is only authentically comprehended and authenticated by those participating in human or social solidarity.20

In order for those seeking emancipation to develop human solidarity they must first cut the umbilical cord of all ideologies that stabilise domination and bind them to Managerialism while damaging the lifeworld by transferring domination from managerial regimes into the latter. This educational solidarity must be of very different character than normal organisational forms exercised by trade unions and political parties. To achieve the indispensable solidarity of emancipatory processes based on mutual and equal recognition as guided by communicative action, student-educators must—from the start—remain anti-ideological, truthful, sincere, honest, multicultural, and emancipatory. This can achieve true solidarity among those seeking emancipation but it will depend on historical and existential experiences of the students and participants of communicative action within social, organisational, and educational structures.

Many students have in some ways experienced the realities of managerial regimes with a single core of domineering decision-making. As a consequence, their experiences inside managerial organisations occur in a context in which such domineering command centres—management’s “command-and-control” ideology supporting the “head-office”, the senior management team, and CEOs—appear to be plural in character as different managerial power structures “battle” each other for total domination despite the hierarchical ordering of the managerial regime. These battles can take place, for example, between marketing and operations management, between accounting and human resource management, between a corporation’s headquarter and geographical networks, and so on. As a consequence, many management students are under a multifaceted form of managerial control. This is ideologically assisted when management is presented as reacting to “the given”, that is, market demands. But different power groups inside management, or simply signified by a dominant figure—heroic CEOs defending their corporations against evil competitors—can assist these ideologies. These CEO figures—framed great business leaders—are often the personified incarnation of domination. Emancipatory education needs to challenge these managerial ideologies.

For a start, emancipatory education and those seeking emancipation need to reject being subjected to an authoritarian personality as well as being dominated by power structures that secretly reinforce structural violence. In both cases, the domineering power of management is to a certain extent made invisible when business organisations and corporations pretend to exist for the benefit of society. Under these ideologies, the reality of domination and structural violence has been eliminated. Simultaneously, the highly visible power of the CEO is presented as a power that works towards the benefit of the corporation and society under, for example, the common business hallucination of stakeholders. They are designed to ideologically camouflage the existence of corporate domination. Set against this are forms of cultural-emancipatory education that share quite different objectives to the domination that enhances ideological teachings in management training programmes. To a substantial degree, managerial training methods and curricular activities depend on ideology, largely hinging on four elements:

  • (a) Knowledge: to create and transmit knowledge in the service of power with management, corporations, and businesses as ultimate power holders
  • (b) Contradictions: to camouflage contradictions between workers (high wages, good working conditions, and shorter working times) and business management (lowering wages through headcounts, downsizing, off-shoring, etc., saving on expensive working conditions under the hegemonic ideology of “cost-cutting” and finally extending working hours to extend exploitation)
  • (c) Domination: cementing domination and the status quo in order to protect management, business corporations, and capitalism
  • (d) Emancipation: preventing emancipation so that a potential shift from training for domination as conducted in management training programmes cannot move towards emancipatory education supported by the inherently human instinct of living humanely.

Those seeking emancipation no longer wish to be “objects of training” that blinds and binds them to those furthering domination—whether visible (e.g. the instructor of management training) or invisible (e.g. hegemonic ideologies such as Managerialism and, more specifically, managerial ideologies such as cost-cutting, cost-benefit analysis, stakeholder models, off-shoring, downsizing). Only forms of communicative action linked to emancipatory education can achieve the move from being an “object of management training” towards being a human subject of emancipatory education that not just highlights the domination- enhancing effects of management training and its adjacent ideologies, but also seeks—quite deliberately and purposefully—to avoid managerial speech making and the use of managerial buzzwords.

Unlike management training, emancipatory education avoids mechanistic activism while opposing all inhuman actions of the dominant managerial and training elites. Above that, it moves towards, and in fact relies on, the human solidarity of all those who no longer want to be dominated. Given what has been illustrated above, the final chapter will draw a few preliminary conclusions that might indicate a shift from management training to emancipatory pedagogy.21

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