Here's Amptoons for the second part. "Privilege Is Driving a Smooth Road And Not Even Knowing It." Let's suppose, for the sake of argument, that the Perpetually Aggrieved would like to extend the set of automatic operations to offering employment or retail assistance or endorsement without regard to race, creed, color, national origin, family circumstance, or university degree. Then there'd be less reason to call attention to flawed politically correct arguments, because there'd be fewer flawed politically correct arguments in the first place.
Lefty Parent's Thoughts on Civilization and Privilege has an interesting way of describing the emergence of an elite in a complex adaptive system with a division of labour.
Think more the informal organization of a contemporary large extended family or a group of people on a field or camping trip rather than a highly stratified hierarchy of decision making. The fact that this organization of our species evolved naturally and continued for nearly 200,000 years mostly unchanged speaks to its efficacy and compatibility with innate human nature.And sometimes, the rebellious keep on fighting after the major victories have been won. Thus, once the major tumors of injustice were excised from U. S. law, the continued harping of the Perpetually Aggrieved against micro-aggression and intersectionality in the presence of evidence of the failure of much of their project exposes them only to scorn.
What I’m really wrestling with these days is the most recent 5000 to 10,000 years of our history, specifically our experiment with “civilization”, which seems to have been quite a mixed bag. In an effort to see what lies beyond and maybe even evolve beyond our nature, we created complex human societies where we all participate (some willingly but many coerced) as a sort of super-organism that has been able to explore and take control of virtually all of our planet’s territory and natural resources, compile an edifice of knowledge now almost universally available through the Internet, and take at least the first baby steps to explore beyond the friendly confines of our planet. A super-organism mimicking a purely biological organism which has a certain small portion of that organism dedicated to its control and executive function.
At its best this experiment with civilization has created a world that currently allows seven billion unique souls to inhabit it at the same time, share an incarnation on a beautiful planet, and share ever more connectedness with (through diminishing degrees of separation from) each other.
But the downside is that we have created complex societies and institutions within those societies which as designed require a controlling elite executing that executive function in a way that generally favors that subset of people at the expense of the rest of us participating in the super-organism. This privilege of a controlling elite may or may not have been an aspect of previous human hunter-gatherer societies, but it continues to be a foundational cog of our “civilization” approach to human society.
What’s a species to do?
One approach that has been tried occasionally in our human history is for the majority to overwhelm the elite minority by force of superior numbers and force them to relinquish their wealth and power. But from my reading of history, the rare successful rebellion of this sort has generally led to the elevation of a different elite jealously protecting its new position at the top of a newly stratified heap. Perhaps more often, the threat of this sort of a revolt has led to some important changes for the better.
Let's use Amptoons's smooth road metaphor. Forty or fifty years of fundamental transformation or subverting the dominant paradigm or embracing difference or celebrating authenticity or privileging transgressivity has not smoothed the road for anyone.
In contemporary life, the roads that aren't potholed are construction projects. It's a Falling Down sort of world, in which the traffic jams are permanent, everybody's gridlocked, when the orange cones go away, the potholes are still there, and when the construction is finished, the lanes are narrower and there are some places you can't get to any more. When you get to where you can get, there are plenty of empty handicapped parking spaces, but the only parking spaces for normal people are a long hike to your destination. Across the potholed road, there's a tatty lot that might have at once time been a public park, or perhaps it was an eminent-domain taking that failed. The gathering of people there might be a concert, or a gang-fight. It's hard to tell which, and half the participants are too wasted to tell, either.
Perhaps you parked to go shopping. You see SNACK'S .99¢ on offer, but you might as well be the Invisible Man for all the attention the clerks are paying you, and when somebody deigns to ring the sale up, your change may or may not be correct. But the Perpetually Aggrieved will not be pleased with the displacement of the unhelpful help. "McDonald's Europe strikes another blow against human interaction by installing 7,000 touch-screen computers to take your order and money." Nor should you be pleased, because those touch-screens might be tracking your purchases or be running buggy software (because rigorous hiring standards are elitist) and your debit or credit card information is at risk.
At least, though, there's enough evidence of the failure of the fundamental transformationists to transform human interactions for the better that people can push back.
I close with a Lefty Parent aside repeating a bit of deaducationist cant. "The old paradigm of teacher as 'sage on the stage' is giving way to a new paradigm of 'guide on the side', if a teacher is needed at all to learn."
Fortunately, I don't have to deal with that rot any more.
And Belmont Club has the deep word on what that guide ought to be doing. "The learning experience of the past was more than the award of a diploma. It was the transmission of culture." He has a link to a British railway training movie in which the apprentice driver learns the art of oiling around.
One should not idealize the world of the past, but education before institutional schooling had its advantages. First of all instruction of necessity conformed to reality. It was learned in the presence of moving masses of steel, timed events and actual human expectations. The link between theory and practice was unbroken.Not necessarily on the railroads, as the five required student trips before the man marked up on the extra board weren't paid. But getting along with difficult conductors and engineers and unsympathetic dispatchers was part of the job.
Second, education consisted in learning work attitudes as well as specific skills. One learned to be part of a team and how to get along. At all events the inadvisability of turning a workplace into a wrestling ring was brought home very sharply. Last but not least, students often got paid to learn.