Today we continue our conversation with Makoto Itoh. Last week, we discussed educational privatization in Japan. This week, we explore the study of Marxism in Japan and the influence of Kozo Uno.

Makoto Itoh teaches at Kokugakuin University and is professor emeritus of the University of Tokyo. His newest book, written in Japanese, is A guide to Capitalist Economy, which was published in February.


Today, we explore the university strikes in the United Kingdom. My guests are Ioannis Costas Batlle and Aurelien Mondon, lecturers at the University of Bath and participants in the Bath Teach Outs.

Based on their experiences in the current labor movement sweeping the UK, they find an alternative to the neoliberal university.

Their new co-written blog post entitled “University Strikes: Reclaiming a space for emancipatory education” was published by Discover Society.

Learn more about the strikes here:


For over two years, this podcast has aimed to disseminate academic ideas through the medium of audio. This year FreshEd will continue to air interviews with scholars from around the world, but we are also going to experiment. Over the holidays, I got to thinking about new ways I could use audio.

Listeners are now familiar with me in the role of interviewer where the focus is on other people’s ideas. I thought maybe you would also interested in hearing about some of my ideas and how they have been influenced by some of the interviews I’ve conducted.

But it’s not as if I’m going to interview myself.

Instead, today’s show captures what it sounds like inside my head as I piece together different ideas and attempt to form a coherent academic argument. It’s like an academic article for your ears.

But not exactly.

Through the soundscape, I’ve tried to convey how seemingly random ideas come together, the moments of synchronicity, and the thesis that comes out of the mix.

This episode is the first installment of The Idea, and is about the indebted student in American higher education.

Are we heading towards another economic crisis? The stock market plunged last week; private debt is at an all-time high; speculative markets are on the rise; wealth remains concentrated at the top; and workers are stuck in precarious low-wage jobs.

My guest today, William I. Robinson, says that the Transnational Capitalist Class is facing a crisis of over-accumulation.

But what is to be done? Professor Robinson details the social movements that will be necessary to escape the rise of a global fascism. He sees the role of intellectuals as an important part of these broad social movements.

William I. Robinson is a professor of sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He has written extensively on globalization, capitalism, and the transnational capitalist class. His latest opinion piece is entitled “The Next Economic Crisis? Digital Capitalism and Global Police State,” which was published on teleSUR, an alternative representation for world news.

OverviewTranscript中文翻译Tradução para portuguêsFrançais TranscriptionResources

To celebrate the 100th episode of FreshEd, I’ve saved an interview with a very special guest.

Back in October, I had the privilege of sitting down with Professor David Harvey during his visit to Tokyo. For those who don’t know him, David Harvey is considered “one of the most influential geographers of the later twentieth century.” He is one of the most cited academics in the humanities and social sciences and is perhaps the most prominent Marxist scholars in the past half century. He has taught a course on Marx’s Capital for nearly 40 years. It is freely available online, and I highly recommend it.

You can go online and find all sorts of interviews with David Harvey where he explains his work and understanding of Marx in depth.

For our conversation today, I thought it would be best to talk about higher education, a system David Harvey has experienced for over 50 years. Who better to give a Marxist critique of higher education than David Harvey himself?

David Harvey is a Distinguished Professor of Anthropology at the City University of New York. His newest book is entitled Marx, Capital and the Madness of Economic Reason, which was published last month.

Citation: Harvey, David, interview with Will Brehm, FreshEd, 100, podcast audio, December 18, 2017.

Will Brehm 4:44
David Harvey, welcome to Fresh Ed.

David Harvey 4:47
Thank you.

Will Brehm 4:49
So here we are sitting in Musashi University in Tokyo. It’s on the eve of the the Japan Society of Political Economy Conference, where you will be giving a keynote. You’ve been sitting in university settings like these for over 50 years now. How has your understanding of the value of higher education changed over time and in place?

David Harvey 5:14
Well, my evaluation of it has not changed that much; it’s remained pretty constant. The conditions of higher education have really been radically transformed. And so it’s been very difficult to keep my values alive in the face of what I would call corporatization and the neoliberalization of the university. And so the nature of the struggle to keep spaces open, where dissident views can be freely developed and expressed, that struggle is much harder now than it was say 20 or 30 years ago. But 40 or 50 years ago, it was hard as well. So it’s like there’s been a big cycle of: Once upon a time, it was very hard, and then it got easier because battles were won, and then we got complacent. And then the reaction set in and now it’s become harder.

Will Brehm 6:18
So what was it like in the beginning, in 1960s? I mean when you said it was it was hard back then, what made it hard? What was hard?

David Harvey 6:26
Well, it was very hierarchical. The professors were gods who you couldn’t challenge. There was a certain orthodoxy which was pretty uniform, I would say, in the world I was in, in terms of what kind of social theory was admissible and which was not. I never encountered much Marx thinking, for example, until I was 35 years old. And then I sort of I encountered it by accident, and got into it by accident. And there was a considerable struggle. As I published more and more things where I cited Marx as being interesting, where people immediately called me a Marxist, I didn’t call myself a Marxist, I got called a Marxist. And after about 10 years of being called a Marxist, I gave up and said, “Okay, I must be a Marxist then if you all say I’m a Marxist.” But all I was doing was reading Marx and saying, “Actually, some stuff in here is very interesting and very significant.” And, of course, it does have a political tinge to it that I found very attractive. And it helped at a very difficult moment in the sense that in the United States, where I just moved at the end of the 1960s, there were urban uprisings all over the place of marginalized populations. And the city I moved to, Baltimore, the year before I went there, a lot of it had burned down in a racial uprising.

And of course, the Vietnam War was going on, the anti-war movement, the Free Speech movement was beginning to make inroads into the university and the student movement was very strong, very powerful. And at the same time, there’s a lot of resistance to it. So there was a period of very active struggle from the late 1960s, through to say, the mid to late 1970s.

Will Brehm 8:27
And in the beginning, did you see the influence of say, you know, capital, in the university when you first started?

David Harvey 8:37
Well it was always obvious that universities were class bound. My education at Cambridge, for example, I immediately encountered class and Cambridge in a way I’d never done at home when the people from the public schools who are very rich were there, and they seem to be, you know, kind of having a good time and I was sweating away trying to be a good student. And in the end, you know, I was the one who sort of got the academic honors, but they didn’t care because they just went off and worked in daddy’s firm in London and were ultra rich within … And there I was eventually with a sort of an Assistant Professor kind of salary, which was peanuts at the time, struggling to survive. So class was always around in education, but I don’t think big money was controlling the university in the way it now does. My education, for example, was funded by the state all the way through from school to PhD. So I had a free education and clearly under those conditions, you feel able to explore whatever it is you want to explore.

Will Brehm 10:00
Were you political in any way, politically active, when you were in Cambridge?

David Harvey 10:05
I was, I would say, I came from a background where there was some sympathy with the Labour Party and socialism and I suppose the extent of my political beliefs were roughly Fabian socialist. But towards the end of the 60s, I was getting disillusioned with that over things like the Vietnam War. And the fact that British Labour Prime Ministers promised great things, but in the end succumb to the power of big money. And – as Harold Wilson put it – the gnomes of Zürich had to be satisfied.

So I started to think there was, maybe something wrong with where we are at politically at the same time as I found that a lot of the theoretical apparatus that I understood from economics and sociology and political science were not really adequate to understand the problems that I was studying on the ground. Particularly in the city of Baltimore, where, as I said, there was an urban uprising year the before I got there and I became involved in a lot of studies of “Why did this happen?”, “What were the problems in the housing market?” and I started to work on housing market kind of problems. And finding that economic theory didn’t help me at some point or other, I decided to go off and read Marx and see if there was anything in there. And of course, I found it was great for getting at practical issues.

Will Brehm 11:44
So Marx, as I’ve learned, actually, through some of your teachings that are online, defines capital as “value in motion”. And I wanted to ask: Does that concept apply to education? Maybe specifically higher education today, because you said big money has now kind of come to dominate the universities. So how do we think about capital in the universities? And how do we think about value being in motion in universities?

David Harvey 12:13
Yes, the mass of capital of course is in motion, and is speeding up all the time, But capital needs certain infrastructures. It needs physical infrastructures, which are long lasting – highways, roads, ports, things of that kind, which take long-term capital investment. By the same token, it also needs long term capital investment in education, because the qualities of the labor force become an increasingly significant problem for capital over time, far more so than in Marx’s time. You want a well-trained, educated labor force. And also you need it from the standpoint of the renewal of bourgeois society, that there be a great deal of innovation and research universities became centers of innovation. Of course one of the crazy things I think of now is that there’s a lot of cutting back funding of higher education, when actually tremendous investment in higher education in the 1960s created an environment which to this day, provides a good deal of background to why the United States still remain so strong in the global economy because you’re having a very educated entrepreneurial minded workforce, but you’re now cutting all of that, and the workforce is less and less likely to be innovative, because it’s increasingly indebted. So you’ve actually got a structure of education, which is undermining what capital really needs. But nevertheless, some capital has to flow through the universities in such a way as to create that labor force. And it is a long term project costs, because as a sort of thing, where the benefits and come out 10, maybe even 15, years later.

Will Brehm 14:14
And I guess one of the things that fascinates me now, in like, in the present moment in America and probably in other countries, as well, the amount of debt students are in to participate in the future labor market run. And I think of it sometimes in terms of this idea of the wants, needs and desires of capital, right, like this idea that there is such a desire to be educated, that people are going into thousands of dollars in debt, which is really limiting their future prospects. So what’s your opinion on this massive debt that students face these days?

David Harvey 14:51
Well I think the general problem of circulation capital is that the circulation of debt has become more and more the crux of what’s going on within the capitalist economy. And so, the indebtedness is taking many different forms, because of the indebtedness that people get into on the consumer side. And, of course, to the degree that education became seen as a commodity which had to be purchased. So people need an effective demand and if they didn’t have the money they had to borrow it. And so you now got the indebtedness of a student population. And this forecloses on the future. And in a way, it’s a form of social control in the same way about housing debt that it was said in the 1930s that debt encumbered homeowners don’t go on strike. So debt encumbered students don’t rock the boat. They want to keep their job site, they don’t want to be fired, because they’ve got all that debt they’ve got to pay off. So there’s a lot of evidence, it seems to me, that the graduating student population is far less likely to take risks than in the situation that I was in, for example, coming out with a PhD from Cambridge with no debt.

And then you can go do what you like, and you don’t have that hanging over you. But now people have this hanging over them. And so it’s both the social control mechanism, it’s also about keeping capital into the future, because debt is a claim on future labor, and it’s a claim on the future. So, in fact, we foreclosed on people’s futures by increasing levels of debt. And then that means that it’s hard to imagine a transformation of capitalism, because you’ve got so much debt. I got personally nervous because my pension fund is invested in debt. So if we abolish the debt, you abolish my pension funds. So my pension fund becomes crucially part of the problem. So I have this ambivalence; I see the stock market crashing and I think, “Yay, this is the end of capitalism.” And then I think, “Oh, my God, what’s happening to my pension fund?” But this is a sort of contradictory situation that all of us get in and it’s one of the things that actually gives a certain social and political stability to capitalism that when capital gets into trouble, and I said, “We’ve got to save the banks.” We say, “No, don’t do that.” And then somebody turns to us and says, “If you don’t save the banks, sorry, all your savings are gone.” So then you turn around and say, “Okay, go save the banks.”

Will Brehm 17:37
Yes, I mean, what’s interesting to me is that education, in some respects, people believe as being transformative, and maybe a location to really go against kind of systemic norms. So, you know, like capitalism, but at the same time, the system we have created, like you said, is basically foreclosing the future, and making people less able to take risks, and maybe challenge that system. And it makes me think about the scholar [Maurizio Lazzarato, who says, the debt in education, higher education, what we start realizing is that the value, the purpose, of higher education is to teach debt. Students learn debt through the system to prepare them to be good kind of capitalist workers in the future.

David Harvey 18:23
Right. But the other side of that is that actually students less and less learn how to be critical. So their critical faculties are being eroded and basically we get situations where students say, “Oh, don’t bother me with all of that, just tell me what I have to know to get my qualification. And I get it, and then I can go off and use that qualification. So it’s about the qualification rather than developing a particular mode of thinking, which is critical. And on the one hand, capital doesn’t like critical thinking, because at some point or other, as happened to the end of the 1960s, a lot of people started to be highly critical of capital. So capital doesn’t like that. On the other hand, if you don’t have critical thinking, there’s no innovation. And so capital sits around and says, “Why isn’t there more kind of innovative things going on?” And that’s because people don’t know how to think for themselves. And actually, there are now complaints emerging – I don’t know if you’ve encountered this – of the labor force coming out of universities that is unable to solve problems, because they don’t know how to think for themselves. They just want to find some solution into which they plug. So they want information, but they don’t have the critical capacity to be actually problem solvers. And there’s a lot of complaints now, among corporate capital of the inability of this younger generation to respond to the needs of the labor place.

Will Brehm 20:02
So I mean, given this environment in higher education – and you you work in higher education. I think you still teach as well?

David Harvey 20:09
I do teach some, yes.

Will Brehm 20:11
So , Marx was very interested in everyday practice, and in your everyday practice as a professor, but maybe more broadly, as a citizen: How do you navigate the system, these contradictions, as you say? On the one hand you’re cheering the fall in the stock market but on the other hand, you’re lamenting the collapse of your pension fund. How do you navigate these contradictions and continue to be politically active?

David Harvey 20:37
Well, for instance, I can start with that story and that contradiction in my own life. And then we’ll ask students, “Can you see similar contradictions?” And, for instance, all this indebtedness, and talk about the things that we’ve been talking about. And if you do that, then people get it straight away. And therefore start to maybe you think the system is a problem, and that we’ve got to do something about it, and then need to learn a lot more about how the system works. And that point you can get into things. The other thing I would want to do, however, is- I’ve always, of course, been interested in urbanization. And if you’re in a major city, and if you’re in a major university in a major city, it seems to me you’ve got a huge educational world out there that you just go out on the streets and start to get people involved to some degree about what’s going on in the streets. One of the great things about teaching at the City University of New York is that we tend to get students who are very streetwise and have been out maybe doing the social movements and so I don’t have to tell them go out and look at what’s going on on the street because they know far more about it than I do. And what they come to me to, is to say, “How do I understand all of this?” “What’s the framework in which I can understand all of this?” and that’s why I kind of try to then sort of say, “Well, okay, let’s study Marx and see how what you’re experiencing relates to this mode of thinking”, and try in that way to get to sort of a critical theoretical perspective.

Will Brehm 22:32
It’s incredible to think that Marx’s writing from 150 years ago is still relevant to help make sense of students’ lives today.

David Harvey 22:44
Right. Well actually, even more so. I mean, the point here is, if you said back in the 1850s, “Where was the capitalist mode of production dominant?” and it was only dominant in Britain, Western Europe and the eastern part of the United States and everywhere else there were merchants around and so on and right now of course, it dominates everywhere. So there’s a sense in which the theory which Marx constructed to deal with that world of capitalist industrial production has now become global. And it’s more relevant than I think it ever was before.

And so I want to emphasize that to people, because quite a lot of people like to write about Marx and say, “Well, you know, that that was about what was going on back then.” And I say, “Well, no, actually back then, there was all kinds of other things going on in the world apart from your capital accumulation.” Now, you can’t find hardly anywhere in the world where capital accumulation is not dominant.

Will Brehm 23:50
I know and it’s amazing to think how it is, it’s so pervasive, it’s so worldwide, it is seeping into parts of life, like the university that didn’t normally, or didn’t historically have those sort of logics to it. And then I guess I get a little pessimistic and kind of think, “Well, where do we even begin to resist? And how do we resist when it’s such a massive system that is so hard to be located outside of?”

David Harvey 24:21
But I think there’s a lot of resistance internally within it. I emphasize a lot Marx’s concept of alienation, which, you know, has not been really very strongly articulated, I think, within the Marxist tradition, in part because somebody like [Louis] Althusser said, that that’s an unscientific concept. Whereas I think it’s a very profoundly important concept. And if you said, “How many people are alienated by conditions of labor as they currently exist?” And the conditions of labor are not simply about the physical aspect of laboring and how much money you get. They’re also about the notion of having a meaningful job and a meaningful life and meaningful jobs are increasingly hard to come by.

I have a daughter who’s 27 and her generation looks at the labor market and says there’s not much there that’s meaningful so I’d rather go and be a bartender than actually take one of those meaningless jobs out there. So you find a sort of alienation from the job situation, because the meaning in work has disappeared. There’s a lot of alienation about daily urban life, in the levels of pollution, the messes that are in transport systems and traffic jams, and the hassles of actually dealing with daily life in the city. So there’s an alienation in the living space, then alienation from politics, because of the political decisions seem to be made somewhere in the stratosphere and you’re not really able to influence them except at a very local neighborhood level. And there’s a sense of alienation from nature and alienation from some sort of concept of human nature. And you look at a personality like Trump and say, “Is that the kind of person I would like to be?” and “Is that the kind of human being that that we want to encourage to populate the earth? Is that what the world’s going to be like?” And so I think there’s a lot of discontent within the system.

Discontented people of course can vote in all sorts of crazy ways and what we’re seeing in Europe and elsewhere is some pretty crazy political things going on. And I think here the left has a certain problem that we have not addressed all of those political feelings and not proposed some active kind of politics of finding better solutions. So that we’ve let the game disappear and I think that to some degree this has a lot to do with what actually I would call the conservativism of the left.

Marxists, for example, are incredibly conservative and you know I’ve lost count of the number of times in a discussion I’ve been driven back to having to discus s Lenin. Well, okay I admire Lenin and I think it was important to read about him, but I don’t think the issue is right now. Those which Lenin was faced with, and I don’t want to get endlessly lost in all those arguments about whether it was Lenin or Luxembourg, or, you know, “Who is Trotsky?” or whoever was right. I want to talk about now. I want to talk about the Marxist critique now, what it’s telling us and then talk and say to ourselves, “How do we actually then construct an alternative to this very wide sense of disillusionment that exists in society?”

Will Brehm 28:18
Do you think education broadly, or maybe higher education specifically, can be part of constructing that alternative based on your Marxist critique?

David Harvey 28:28
It can be, and it should be. The problem right now is that higher education is more and more dominated by private money and its become privatized; the funding has become privatized. And when it was state funded, there was always constraints, but not as fierce as they are now. And basically, big capital and corporations will fund/give massive amounts of money to universities to build research centers. But the research centers are about finding technical solutions; they very rarely have anything other than a nominal kind of concern about social issues. They’re not about – I mean, for instance, the environmental field, these institutes for looking at environmental questions. And it’s all about technologies. And it’s all about taxation arrangements, or something of that kind. It’s not about consulting with the people. It’s not about discussions of those kinds.

When we were doing research on those questions back in the 1960s, there was always a lot of public participation and public discussion. Now sort of technocratic imposed from the top solution to the environmental problem, which is being designed. And if you are interested in the environmental problem from a social perspective, you’re likely to be in the humanities somewhere or other and you can have a little symposium in the humanities about how, when you start to be very political about it, but the engineers and the technocrats well funded in these research institutes are not going to be terribly excited about listening to you.

Will Brehm 30:10
In a similar way, I’m amazed sometimes at how, in academics, the labor that professors do in terms of writing papers and doing work much longer than regular work week, and that there’s very few unions fighting for their rights. And more importantly, I think, is that, you know, there’s such a perverse or crazy system in a way where academics spend all of this labor writing articles that then get published in these for profit companies that then sell journals and articles out and very little money goes back to the professor who did the actual labor. And meanwhile, the CEO of Wiley, which is a big publishing company is making something like $4 million a year. I mean, it seems so skewed. And what’s interesting in my mind, is that some of these same professors who are in this environment, they use Marxist critiques in their work but then there’s almost like a disconnect with their own labor. And I don’t know how to make sense of that sometimes.

David Harvey 31:21
Well, I think that if you want to get published, then you’ve got to find a publisher and the publisher is a capitalistic institution. Now, the interesting thing about publishing is that publishers tend to publish anything that sells. So it’s possible, if you have a critical perspective to get published if it sells. And so there are obviously, some books which sell widely and have quite an impact. And historically, of course, Harrington’s The Other America back in the 60s suddenly exploded the whole question of poverty in the United States. A book like Piketty’s book for all of it, while I’ve been critical of it nevertheless opened up and very much supported what the Occupy movement was doing, and talking about the problems of the 1%. And Piketty documented a lot of that, so this is extremely useful. So yes, you have to use capitalist means to anti-capitalist ends. But that is, in fact, one of the contradictions that is central to our own social situation. There are of course alternatives to do it through social media and use of a sort of Copyleft situation of a certain kind, but then that becomes a bit problematic if somebody needs the money from whatever they publish. So yes, there’s the labor process but the good thing at least I would say about the labor process for academics is that nobody is your boss – that you do it for yourself. And Marx has a very interesting question: “Did Milton in writing Paradise Lost, did he create value?” And the answer is, “No, he just wrote wonderful phrases.”

He says Milton wrote Paradise Lost in the same way that the silkworm produces silk; he did it out of his own nature. It only became a commodity, when he sold the rights to it for five pounds to somebody. And then it became a commodity, but it’s not part of capital – it only became capital when the bookseller started to use it as kind of a way of circulating capital. And so I like to think of my labor as kind of being silkworm labor – that I do it out of my own nature, and not out of some sort of instruction from some publisher. So I do it because I want to do it, I want to communicate something, and I have something to say, and I want to lay it out there.

Will Brehm 34:37
And you can’t not do it.

David Harvey 34:38
Right, and a lot of that labor is free as now on the website, for example, people can do that and then there’s the written person, the companions to Marx’s Capital, which go with the lectures. Some people like the lecture format, and some people find it difficult, so they can go to the written format. So the written format is in the publishing world.

Will Brehm 35:07
Yes, and I guess we just hope that there’s more people in academia like you that are doing this out of their own nature, and not too worried about how it becomes a commodity.

David Harvey 35:20
Less and less. And this is one of the problem, I think. Less and less, and a whole generation of academics has been raised within this disciplinary apparatus, that you’ve got to produce so much of this, and so many articles of this sort within a certain period of time in order to maintain your position. So there’s less and less doing that because when you’re under those sorts of conditions, you can’t take 10 years to write a book.

I took 10 years to write Limits to Capital, and during that time, I didn’t publish that much and under contemporary conditions, I would have been under real stress about the fact that I wasn’t productive enough, and all the rest of it and they would be having me and saying, “You’ve got to produce more”. And there are a lot of things that happened as a result; the quality of academic publication has diminished very significantly as the quantity has increased. And the other thing is that instead of undertaking sort of real deep research, which takes you a long time, it’s far better to write a piece where you criticize somebody else. Say you just engage in critical kind of stuff and you can write an article like mad in six months. And so the turnover time of academia has become much shorter and long-term projects are much harder to undertake.

Will Brehm 36:54
It reminds me of the the recent scandal in The Third World Quarterly, the journal article that was published by – I think an American, I’m not 100% sure. But he basically set out the case for why we need to see colonialism as good, and he puts this whole article article together. No research, just this kind of diabolical sort of argument that really gets people upset. And, of course, it becomes instantly the highest read article in The Third World Quarterly, which has been around for 60 years. And then, of course, the editorial board kind of resigned in protest, but it just encapsulates this moment.

David Harvey 37:39
Yes. And, of course, it also gets a lot of citations and suddenly he goes to his Head of Department and says, “I’m way up there in citations. Give me more money.”

Will Brehm 37:52
That’s right, and his university didn’t come out and criticize him. You know, it’s about diversity of opinion. It’s something you can see how you can game the system that way academics. Instead of doing this deep thinking, like you’re talking about, with the 10 years to write a book. Do you think Marx would have been a good academic?

David Harvey 38:13
No he would have been terrible! He would never have gotten tenure anywhere. First off, nobody would know what discipline to put him in. I have a bit of that problem. I mean, I come from geography but a lot of people think I’m a sociologist or something else. But he doesn’t fit easily into any discipline. And then secondly, he didn’t complete much of his work. And I always used to have this little thing on my desk: He had a letter from his publisher, that said, “Dear Herr Professor Marx it’s come to our attention that we have not yet received your manuscript of Das Kapital. Would you please furnish it to us within six months, or we’ll have to commission somebody else to write this work?”

Will Brehm 39:05
Do you know if he met the deadline?

David Harvey 39:07
No, of course not.

Will Brehm 39:10
How long did it take him to write Capital? Number One.

David Harvey 39:15
I guess it was basically 15 years, I think.

Will Brehm 39:22
And there’s three volumes in his name for Capital, but the third one was co-written or was compiled.

David Harvey 39:29
Well both volumes two volumes and volumes three were compiled by Engles. And there has been a lot of discussion about how much Engles manufactured, and he certainly made it seem like these notes which Marx had were closer to publication that they actually were. So there’s a lot of critical discussion because the manuscripts are now freely available and people are reading the manuscripts very carefully, out of which Engles constructed the actual text that comes down to us, and they’re finding all kinds of things that Engles added or missed. So there’s an interesting scholarly exercise going on on that.

Will Brehm 40:14
Was there supposed to be more than three volumes?

David Harvey 40:16

Will Brehm 40:17
How many?

David Harvey 40:19
It depends how you count them. In the Grundrisse he gave several proposals – the three volumes he’s got of the Capital already, then one on the State, one on the World Market and World Trade, and another on Crises. So there were at least three others, and it’s possible to find other places where he mentioned other things he needs to look at. In fact, the question of wage labor, it is covered of course to some degree in Volume One of Capital, but Marx, never really wrote out a very sophisticated explanation and discussion of wage determination. And he had in mind to do that, but the evidence is that he had some preliminary thoughts about that, but those preliminary thoughts did end up in Volume One of Capital, but he did, I think, want to have a whole volume on wage labor in itself. But like I said, bits and pieces of that idea ended up in Volume One of capital, but not the whole thing.

Will Brehm 41:41
Unfinished work, I guess.

David Harvey 41:43
And one of the things I think we should be doing – those of us who are familiar with the text – is to try to find ways to complete what he was talking about, and actually to represent what he’s talking about in the three volumes of Capital, which is I tried to do in the last book.

Will Brehm 42:03
So it actually raises a good point: Who else in the next generation of Marxist thinkers – I mean, you have spent 50 years doing this. Who do you see today as kind of taking up the mantle in the next generation?

David Harvey 42:21
The answer to that is, “I’m not quite sure.” Because there’s a big gap between people of my generation or close to my generation, sort of 60s and above, and the younger generation in their late 20s, early 30s.

Will Brehm 42:39
So me.

David Harvey 42:40
Yes, there are a lot of people in that generation who are actually very interested in exploring Marx in much greater detail. In between, there’s hardly anybody. And the people who were there have largely abandoned what they were doing and become kind of neoliberalized and all the rest of it. So there are some people in the middle, obviously. So it’s not completely blank, but I have a great deal of faith in your generation, actually, because I think your generation is taking it much more seriously. I think it feels more of a compelling need that they need some sort of analysis of this kind. And I think what my generation is obliged to do, which is what I’ve been trying to do, I think over the last decade really, by way of what I call The Marx Project is to produce a reading of Marx which is more open and fluid and more related to daily life and it’s not too scholastic. So I’ve tried to produce these interpretations of Marx that are simple, but not simplistic. It’s very difficult to negotiate that distinction, but that’s been my aim. And one of the things that I think has been encouraging is what I see as a very positive reaction to that mission.

Will Brehm 44:13
So Marx was known for being very well read. And he was a beautiful writer and Capital – Volume One is just an absolutely beautiful read. And he really draws on such a wide range of other writers. And I just wonder: Are you reading anyone that’s a contemporary scholar, or maybe an artist, or a filmmaker that is capable of bringing in such a wide variety of thinking into the creation of some artwork or some scholarly work in a beautiful way like Marx did back 150 years ago?

David Harvey 44:57
I think there are people who are who have a broader perspective on Marx. I think of somebody like Terry Eagleton, who I think can bring in a lot of the cultural things and in his little book on why Marx was right, I think did a very nice job of taking up the spirit of Marx as an emancipatory thinker and pushing it home. So there are people, I think, who are capable of doing that, but somebody who knows Greek philosophy, or Hegel inside out, Milton, Shakespeare, you know – it just boggles the mind that somebody could sit there with all of that in his head and produce work which is fascinating, I think in terms of how how to interpret it.

Will Brehm 46:02
David Harvey thank you so much for joining Fresh Ed. It really wasn’t pleasure to talk; it was an honor to really speak today.

David Harvey 46:08
It was my pleasure to chat with you, and remember, it’s your generation that has to do it. So get busy now.

Will Brehm 46:15
I will get back to my 10 year book.

David Harvey 46:18

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Will Brehm 17:37
是的,我觉得有意思的是,从某方面而言,人们相信教育具有变革作用,可以对抗像资本主义这样的一些社会系统规范。但同时,正如您所言,我们所建立的这个社会体系恰恰在扼杀未来,使人们承担风险的能力降低。这让我想起毛里齐奥·拉扎拉托(Maurizio Lazzarato)关于高等教育中有关债务的观点,他说:“高等教育的意义和目的就是教导学生何谓债务。”学生通过在大学学到的债务知识,为将来在资本主义世界工作做好准备。

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David Harvey 24:21
我觉得在它内部就已经有很多抵抗了。我一直强调马克思的“异化理论”。这一概念在马克思主义研究中没有得到很好地阐释,甚至连路易·阿尔都塞(Louis Althusser)这样的马克思主义者都说异化理论是不科学的。但是我不这么想,相反,我认为异化是非常深刻且重要的概念。当我们问“有多少人被所处的劳动环境异化”时,这里的劳动环境不仅指物质层面和工作报酬,更多地还包含工作意义。现在做有意义的工作、过有意义的生活变得越来越难。我有个女儿,今年27岁,她这一代人进入劳动市场的时候,发现有意义的工作寥寥无几,所以她宁愿去当调酒师,也不想做那些毫无意义的工作。工作意义的消失是一种劳动异化的体现。
当然,不满的人们以各种疯狂的形式参加选举,正如我们所看到的欧洲和其他地区发生的那些不可思议的政治事件。我认为左翼政党有一个问题,那就是我们即没有解决那些政治情绪、也没能提出积极的政治策略以寻求更好的解决方案,我们只是不像原来那么搞。我称之为 “左翼的保守主义”。

Will Brehm 28:18

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David Harvey 31:21
如果你想要出版就必须依靠出版商,而出版商是一个资本主义机构,他们只愿意出版能卖钱的书。所以有趣的是,如果你的批判能卖钱,他们就会出版。当然,历史上有很多书既畅销又具有很大影响力。比如上世纪60年代哈灵顿(Michael Harrington)所著的《另一个美国》,瞬间引爆了对美国贫困问题的讨论。再比如皮凯蒂(Thomas Piketty)的《21世纪资本论》,尽管我不尽同意其中的观点,但我依然保持开放的态度。皮凯蒂在书中讨论了很多关于财富收入分配的问题,为 “占领华尔街”运动提供了支持,是本非常有启发的书。所以,有时候我们不得不借助资本主义的力量来实现反对资本主义的目的。实际上,这是我们社会的众多矛盾中最为核心的矛盾之一。当然也可以有其他方法,比如社交媒体,或者“公共版权”的形式,但一旦涉及到出版所需的资金时,问题就来了。因此,出版是有自己的一套劳动过程的。但我认为至少对学术界而言,在这一过程中没有人是你的老板,每个作者都是为自己而工作。马克思就问过一个有意思的问题:米尔顿在写《失乐园》的时候创造价值了吗?答案是:没有,他创造的只是精彩的文字。

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David Harvey 44:57
确实能看到有些人对马克思有更广阔的视角。比如特里·伊格尔顿(Terry Eagleton),我认为他给我们带来了很多文化方面的理论,并且在《马克思主义为什么是对的》一书中,他相当出色地继承了马克思作为解放思想家的精神并将其发扬广大。所以,我相信有些人有能力做到这一点。当然,熟悉希腊哲学、黑格尔、米尔顿、莎士比亚的人或许会说,竟有人可以坐在书桌前,将脑子里的想法创作出如此精彩的作品,是多么不可思议。就看你怎么解读了。

Will Brehm 46:02

David Harvey 46:08

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Translation by Jiang Dian
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Will Brehm  4:44
David Harvey, bem-vindo ao FreshEd.

David Harvey  4:47

Will Brehm  4:49
Estamos aqui na Universidade Musashi, em Tóquio na véspera da sua conferência na Sociedade de Economia Política do Japão. Estando num meio universitário como este há mais de 50 anos como vê as mudanças na valorização do ensino superior ao longo do tempo e nas diferentes partes do mundo?

David Harvey  5:14
Bem, a minha avaliação não mudou muito; permaneceu bastante constante. As condições do ensino superior foram, realmente, transformadas radicalmente. E, portanto, tem sido muito difícil manter os meus valores diante do que eu chamaria de corporação [corporatization] e neoliberalização da universidade. E assim, a natureza da luta para manter os espaços abertos, onde visões dissidentes podem ser livremente desenvolvidas e expressadas, essa luta é muito mais difícil agora do que se dizia ser há 20 ou 30 anos. Há 40 ou 50 anos, também, era difícil. É como se houvesse um grande ciclo de: era uma vez, foi muito difícil e depois tornou-se muito fácil porque as batalhas foram vencidas, então tornámo-nos complacentes. E então, a reação começou e agora tornou-se mais difícil.

Will Brehm  6:18
Como foi o começo, na década de 1960? Quero dizer, quando disse que era difícil naquela época, o que tornava difícil? O que foi difícil?

David Harvey  6:26
Bem, era muito hierárquico. Os professores eram deuses que não se podiam desafiar. Havia uma certa ortodoxia bastante uniforme, eu diria, no mundo em que estava, em termos de teoria social que era ou não admissível. Eu nunca encontrei muito o pensamento de Marx, por exemplo, até os 35 anos de idade. De certo modo encontrei-o de forma acidental, entrei no seu pensamento por acidente. E houve uma luta considerável. Conforme ia publicando os meus trabalhos e citava Marx começou a acontecer um fenómeno interessante, as pessoas imediatamente chamavam-me marxista, mas eu não me chamava marxista, fui chamado de marxista. Depois de dez anos a ser chamado de marxista, desisti e disse: “Está bem, devo ser marxista, se todos dizem que sou marxista”. Mas tudo o que eu estava a fazer era ler Marx e dizer: “Na verdade, algumas coisas aqui são muito interessantes e muito significativas”. E, é claro, tem um tom político que eu achei muito atraente. Um outro fator foi ter-me ajudado num momento muito difícil, no sentido de que nos Estados Unidos, país para onde me tinha acabado de mudar no final da década de 1960, estava a passar por um período conturbado com muitas revoltas urbanas de populações marginalizadas. Outro aspeto foi o facto de, um ano antes de me ter mudado para Baltimore, grande parte da cidade ter sido queimada como resultado de tumultos raciais.

E, é claro, a Guerra do Vietname estava a ocorrer, o movimento antiguerra, o movimento da Liberdade de Expressão [Free Speech movement] estava a começar a fazer incursões na universidade e o movimento estudantil era muito forte, muito poderoso. Ao mesmo tempo, há muita resistência a tudo isto. Portanto, houve um período de luta muito ativa desde o final da década de 1960 até meados da década de 1970.

Will Brehm  8:27
E no início, quando começou a trabalhar na universidade, viu a influência, por assim dizer, do capital na universidade?

David Harvey  8:37
Bem, sempre foi óbvio que as universidades estavam vinculadas à classe. Na minha formação em Cambridge, por exemplo, encontrei imediatamente classe. Em Cambridge, as pessoas das escolas públicas muito ricas estavam lá, e elas pareciam estar bem, passando um bom momento e eu estava a suar para tentar ser um bom aluno. E no final, sabe, fui eu quem recebeu as honras académicas, mas eles não se importaram porque simplesmente saíram e foram trabalhar para a empresa dos pais em Londres e eram ultrafrios… E lá estava eu com uma espécie de salário de professor assistente, que era muito baixo na época, lutando para sobreviver. Portanto a classe estava sempre à volta da educação, mas não julgo que o dinheiro estivesse a controlar a universidade da maneira que influencia agora. A minha educação, por exemplo, foi financiada pelo Estado desde que iniciei a escola até ao doutoramento. Então, eu tive uma educação gratuita e, claramente, nessas condições, sentia-me capaz de explorar o que quer que fosse.

Will Brehm  10:00
Nessa altura era politicamente ativo de alguma forma, quando estava em Cambridge?

David Harvey  10:05
Eu diria que vim de um ambiente em que havia alguma simpatia pelo Partido Trabalhista e pelo socialismo e suponho que as minhas crenças políticas fossem, aproximadamente, Fabian socialist. Mas no final dos anos 60, estava a ficar desiludido com coisas como a Guerra do Vietname e pelo facto de os primeiros-ministros britânicos trabalhistas prometerem grandes coisas, mas no final sucumbem ao poder do grande dinheiro. E – como referiu Harold Wilson – os gnomos de Zurique necessitam de ser satisfeitos.

Então comecei a pensar que havia, talvez, algo de errado com a nossa posição política ao mesmo tempo que descobri que muito do aparato teórico da economia, da sociologia e da ciência política não eram realmente adequadas para entender os problemas que estava a estudar no terreno, em particular a cidade de Baltimore, onde, como eu disse, houve revolta urbana um ano antes de eu chegar. Assim, envolvi-me em estudos que se debruçaram sobre “Porque é que isto aconteceu?”, “Quais eram os problemas do mercado imobiliário?” e assim iniciei o meu trabalho no tipo de problemas do mercado imobiliário. Ao descobrir que a teoria económica não me ajudou num momento ou noutro, decidi ler Marx e ver se havia algo lá. E, claro, encontrei algo ótimo para abordar as questões práticas.

Will Brehm  11:44
Assim, Marx, como aprendi, na verdade, através de algumas das suas aulas disponíveis na internet, define capital como “valor em movimento”. Assim, queria perguntar-lhe se este conceito se aplica à educação? Talvez acerca do ensino superior, pelo que referiu anteriormente, sobre o dinheiro estar a influenciar as universidades, seja interessante perguntar como pensamos o capital nas universidades? E como pensamos sobre o valor estar em movimento nas universidades?

David Harvey  12:13
Sim, é claro que a massa do capital está em movimento e está a acelerar a todo o momento, mas o capital precisa de certas infraestruturas. Precisa de infraestruturas físicas, que são duradouras – autoestradas, estradas, portos, coisas desse tipo, que requerem investimento de capital a longo prazo. Da mesma forma, também é necessário investimento de capital a longo prazo na educação, para ter disponível força de trabalho com qualidade, pois é um problema cada vez mais significativo para o capital ao longo do tempo, muito mais do que na altura de Marx. É necessária uma força de trabalho bem formada e educada e também, do ponto de vista da renovação da sociedade burguesa, deve haver uma grande quantidade de inovação e universidades que façam investigação para se tornarem centros de inovação.
Uma das coisas loucas que penso agora é que há cortes no financiamento do ensino superior, quando na década de 60 este investimento criou um ambiente que, até hoje, fornece uma boa explicação para os Estados Unidos da América ainda permanecerem tão fortes na economia global. Este investimento possibilitou haver uma força de trabalho instruído com espírito empreendedor, estando agora todo este investimento a ser cortado levando à força de trabalho a ter menos hipóteses de ser inovadora, porque está cada vez mais endividada. Então realmente há uma estrutura de educação que está a minar o que o capital realmente precisa, estando, no entanto, algum capital a fluir através das universidades de forma a criar essa força de trabalho. Porém é um projeto com custos a longo prazo uma vez que os resultados só serão visíveis no prazo de 10 ou até 15 anos depois.

Will Brehm  14:14
Julgo que uma das coisas que agora me fascina no momento atual dos Estados Unidos, e provavelmente noutros países, é a quantidade de dívidas que os estudantes têm para poder participar na corrida ao mercado de trabalho. Penso nisto e na ideia de vontades, necessidades e desejos do capital, como uma ideia proporciona o desejo de ter educação, mas que implica que as pessoas fiquem endividadas em milhares de dólares, o que realmente limita as suas perspetivas futuras. Posto isto, qual é a sua opinião sobre estas dívidas enormes que os estudantes enfrentam atualmente?

David Harvey  14:51
Bem, julgo que o problema geral da circulação do capital é que esta circulação de dívida se tornou cada vez mais o cerne do que está a acontecer na economia capitalista. E assim, o endividamento está a assumir muitas formas diferentes, devido ao endividamento das pessoas enquanto consumidoras. E, é claro, na medida em que a educação passou a ser vista como uma mercadoria que precisava ser comprada. Portanto, as pessoas precisam de uma demanda efetiva e, se não tivessem o dinheiro, teriam de o pedir emprestado. Desta forma há um endividamento de uma população estudantil e isto limita o futuro e, de certa forma, é uma forma de controlo social da mesma forma que a dívida imobiliária teve na década de 1930, os proprietários sobrecarregados com dívidas não entram em greve. Portanto, estudantes sobrecarregados por dívidas não agitam o barco. Eles querem manter o posto de trabalho, não querem ser demitidos, porque têm uma dívida que necessita de ser paga. Portanto, parece-me que há muitas evidências que indicam que atual população com formação superior tem muito menos probabilidade de correr riscos do que eu quando estava, por exemplo, a sair da Universidade com um doutoramento de Cambridge sem dívidas.

Quando não se tem dívidas pode-se fazer o que se quiser, não tem isso a pairar sobre si. Mas agora as pessoas têm as dívidas a pairar sobre elas, portanto é o mecanismo de controlo social, mas também é sobre manter o capital no futuro, porque a dívida é uma reivindicação sobre trabalho futuro e é uma reivindicação sobre o futuro. Então, de facto, encerramos o futuro das pessoas aumentando os níveis de dívida. Isto significa que é difícil imaginar uma transformação do capitalismo, porque você tem muitas dívidas, fica nervoso porque o seu fundo de pensões é investido em dívidas. Portanto, se abolirmos a dívida, você abolirá o meu fundo de pensões tornando-o desta forma uma questão central do problema. Então, tenho essa ambivalência, vejo o mercado de ações a colapsar e penso: “Sim, é o fim do capitalismo”. E a seguir penso: “Oh, meu Deus, o que está acontecer ao meu fundo de pensões?” Esta é uma espécie de situação contraditória em que todos nós entramos e é uma das coisas que realmente dá uma certa estabilidade social e política ao capitalismo, quando o capital está com, e digo: “Temos que salvar os bancos “. Dizemos: “Não, não faça isso”. E então alguém se vira para nós e diz: “Se não salvar os bancos, desculpe, mas todas as suas economias desaparecem”. Então diz: “Está bem, vá salvar os bancos”.

Will Brehm  17:37
Sim, quero dizer, o que é interessante para mim é que a educação, em alguns aspetos, é avaliada elas pessoas como transformadora e capaz de realmente ir contra as normas sistémicas, como o capitalismo, mas, ao mesmo tempo, o sistema que criamos, como disse, basicamente está a limitar futuro e a tornar as pessoas menos capazes de assumir riscos e até mesmo desafiar este sistema. E isso faz-me pensar no investigador Maurizio Lazzarato, que diz, a dívida na educação, no ensino superior, faz-nos perceber que o valor, o objetivo do ensino superior, é ensinar dívida. Os alunos aprendem dívidas através do sistema para prepará-los, para serem bons trabalhadores capitalistas no futuro.

David Harvey  18:23
Certo. Mas o outro lado disso é que, na verdade, os alunos aprendem cada vez menos a ser críticos. Portanto, as suas faculdades fundamentais estão a ser corroídas e, basicamente, temos situações em que os alunos dizem: “Oh, não me incomode com isso, apenas me diga o que preciso saber para obter a minha qualificação. Consigo-a e posso sair e usar essa qualificação”. Portanto, trata-se da qualificação, em vez de desenvolver um modo de pensamento específico, que é crítico. Por um lado, o capital não gosta de pensamento crítico, porque em algum momento, como aconteceu no final da década de 1960, muitas pessoas começaram a criticar o capital. Portanto, o capital não gosta disso. Por outro lado, se não tem um pensamento crítico, não há inovação. Pode perguntar: “Por que é que não há mais inovação a ocorrer?” a resposta é porque as pessoas não sabem pensar por si mesmas. Na verdade, agora está a emergir um outro tipo de reclamação – não sei se já se deparou com ela – a força de trabalho que sai das universidades, que é incapaz de resolver problemas porque não sabem pensar por si mesmos. Só querem encontrar solução para a qual já sabem a resposta, querem que lhes digam qual é a solução, não têm a capacidade crítica para resolver problemas. Atualmente há muitas reclamações do capital corporativo sobre a incapacidade da geração mais jovem de responder às necessidades do local de trabalho.

Will Brehm  20:02
Quero dizer, dado esse ambiente no ensino superior – e você trabalha no ensino superior. Ainda ensina?

David Harvey  20:09
Por vezes ainda ensino, sim.

Will Brehm  20:11
Portanto, Marx estava muito interessado na prática quotidiana e na sua prática quotidiana como professor, mas talvez de forma mais ampla como cidadão: como navega no sistema, nessas contradições, como diz? Por um lado, está a torcer pela queda do mercado de ações, mas, por outro, teme o colapso do seu fundo de pensões. Como navegar nestas contradições e ser politicamente ativo?

David Harvey  20:37
Bem, por exemplo, posso começar com a contradição da minha própria vida. Perguntamos aos alunos: “Conseguem ver contradições semelhantes?” Por exemplo, podemos falar sobre todo este endividamento e sobre as coisas que temos estado a falar. Se fizermos isso as pessoas entendem imediatamente o que estamos a falar. Portanto, começam a pensar que o sistema é um problema, e que precisamos fazer algo a respeito e precisamos aprender muito mais sobre como o sistema funciona. E nesse ponto podemos conseguir entrar nas coisas. Outra coisa que gostaria de fazer – eu sempre me interessei por urbanização – é se está numa cidade grande, numa universidade importante numa cidade importante, parece-me que tem um mundo educacional enorme para simplesmente sai pelas ruas e começa a envolver-se com as pessoas e até certo ponto sobre o que está a acontecer nas ruas. Uma das grandes coisas sobre o ensino na Universidade da Cidade de Nova Iorque [City University of New York] é que tendemos a receber estudantes que se envolveram em manifestações, que fazem parte de movimentos sociais, para que eu não necessite dizer-lhes que saiam e vejam o que é uma manifestação porque eles sabem muito mais sobre isso do que eu. E o que eles procuram é: “Como percebo tudo isto?” “Qual é a estrutura que me permite perceber tudo isto?” e é por isso que eu tento dizer: “Bem, vamos estudar Marx e ver como as vossas experiências estão relacionadas com o seu pensamento “, e tentar desta forma obter uma espécie perspetiva crítica com base na teoria.

Will Brehm  22:32
É incrível pensar que a escrita de Marx com 150 anos ainda é relevante para ajudar a perceber a vida dos estudantes hoje.

David Harvey  22:44
Certo. Bem, na verdade, mais ainda. Quero dizer, o ponto aqui é, se na década de 1850 dissessemos: “Onde era dominante o modo de produção capitalista?”, ele era dominante apenas na Grã-Bretanha, na Europa Ocidental e na parte oriental dos Estados Unidos e em todo o lado havia comerciantes, e agora é comum em todo o lado. Portanto, há um sentido em que a teoria que Marx construiu para lidar com esse mundo da produção industrial capitalista agora se tornou global. E é mais relevante do que eu penso que já foi antes.

E, portanto, quero enfatizar isto às pessoas, porque muitas gostam de escrever sobre Marx e dizer: “Bem, você sabe, isso era o que estava a acontecer naquela época”. E eu digo: “Bem, não, na verdade, naquela época, havia todo o tipo de coisas acontecer no mundo, além da sua acumulação de capital”. Agora, você não consegue encontrar praticamente nenhum lugar do mundo onde a acumulação de capital não seja dominante.

Will Brehm  23:50
Eu sei e é incrível pensar como é tão difundido, é tão mundial, e se está a infiltrar em partes da vida, como a universidade que normalmente não fazia ou que historicamente não tinha esse tipo de lógica. Então julgo que fico um pouco pessimista e penso: “Bem, onde começamos a resistir? Como resistimos, quando é um sistema tão grande que é tão difícil estar fora dele?”

David Harvey  24:21
Mas creio que há muita resistência internamente. Enfatizo muito o conceito de alienação de Marx, que, como sabe, não foi realmente muito fortemente articulado, creio, dentro da tradição marxista, em parte porque alguém como [Louis] Althusser disse, que é um conceito não científico. Considerando que eu acho que é um conceito profundamente importante. Se disser: “Quantas pessoas são alienadas pelas condições de trabalho como elas existem atualmente?” E as condições do trabalho não são simplesmente sobre o aspeto físico do trabalho ou quanto dinheiro recebe. Também tratam da noção de ter um emprego significativo e uma vida significativa e empregos significativos são cada vez mais difíceis de encontrar.

Eu tenho uma filha que tem 27 anos e a geração dela olha para o mercado de trabalho e diz que não há muito trabalho que seja significativo, então eu prefiro ser barman do que realmente ter um desses empregos sem sentido. Então encontra uma espécie de alienação da situação laboral porque o significado desapareceu. Há muita alienação na vida urbana quotidiana, nos níveis de poluição, nas más condições dos sistemas de transporte, nos engarrafamentos e nas chatices associadas em lidar com a vida quotidiana na cidade. Portanto, há uma alienação, depois uma alienação da política, porque as decisões políticas parecem ter sido tomadas em algum lugar da estratosfera e não somos realmente capazes de a influenciar, exceto num bairro muito específico. E existe uma sensação de alienação da natureza e alienação de algum tipo de conceito da natureza humana. E olha para uma pessoa como Trump e diz: “Esse é o tipo de pessoa que eu gostaria de ser?” e “Este é o tipo de ser humano que queremos incentivar a povoar a Terra? É assim que o mundo será?” Penso que há muito descontentamento no sistema.

Pessoas descontentes, é claro, podem votar de todos os tipos e formas loucas, e vemos a acontecer coisas bem loucas na política. Julgo que a aqui a esquerda tem um certo problema: não abordamos todos esses sentimentos políticos e não propusemos algum tipo ativo de política para encontrar melhores soluções. Então deixamos o jogo desaparecer e penso que, até certo ponto, isto tem muito a ver com o que eu chamaria de conservadorismo de esquerda.

Os marxistas, por exemplo, são incrivelmente conservadores e você sabe que perdi a conta ao número de vezes em que numa discussão fui levado a voltar a discutir Lenin. Bem, tudo bem, admiro Lenin e penso que era importante ler sobre ele, mas não considero que o problema seja agora. Aqueles problemas com os quais Lenin se defrontou, e não me quero perder infinitamente em todos esses argumentos sobre se era Lenin ou Luxemburgo, ou, você sabe, “Quem é Trotsky?” ou quem estava certo. Eu quero falar agora. Quero falar sobre a crítica marxista agora, o que esta nos diz e depois falar e dizer a nós mesmos: “Como realmente construímos uma alternativa a esse amplo senso de desilusão que existe na sociedade?”

Will Brehm  28:18
Pensa que a educação em geral, ou talvez o ensino superior especificamente, pode fazer parte da construção dessa alternativa com base na sua crítica marxista?

David Harvey  28:28
Pode ser, e deveria ser. O problema agora é que o ensino superior é cada vez mais dominado pelo dinheiro privado, está a ser privatizado, o financiamento foi privatizado. Mesmo quando era financiado pelo Estado havia sempre restrições, mas não tão ferozes como agora. Basicamente, grandes capitais e corporações financiaram/ doaram quantias maciças às universidades para construir centros de investigação. Mas os centros de investigação procuram soluções técnicas, raramente encontram outra coisa senão um tipo nominal de preocupação com as questões sociais. Eles não são sobre – quero dizer, por exemplo, o campo ambiental, esses institutos para analisar questões ambientais. É tudo sobre tecnologias, acordos de tributação, ou algo desse tipo. Não se trata de consultar as pessoas, não se trata de discussões deste tipo.

Quando estávamos a investigar essas questões nos anos 60, havia sempre muita participação e discussão pública. Agora é imposta uma solução superior ao problema ambiental. Se estiver interessado no problema ambiental de uma perspetiva social, provavelmente, estará nas ciências humanas em algum lugar ou outro e poderá ter um pequeno simpósio nas ciências humanas sobre como, quando você começa a ser muito político, mas os engenheiros e tecnocratas bem financiados nesses institutos de investigação não ficarão muito animados em ouvi-lo.

Will Brehm  30:10
De maneira semelhante, às vezes surpreendo-me com o fato de haver poucos sindicatos que lutam pelos nossos direitos na academia, pois no nosso trabalho como professores e na redação de artigos trabalhamos muito mais do que a semana normal de trabalho. E o mais importante, creio, é que existe um sistema tão perverso ou maluco que os académicos têm todo esse trabalho a escrever artigos que depois são publicados nesses sites com fins lucrativos, que vendem periódicos e artigos e muito pouco dinheiro é devolvido ao professor que fez o trabalho real. Enquanto isso, o CEO da Wiley, que é uma grande editora, fatura algo em torno de 4 milhões de solares por ano. Quero dizer, parece tão distorcido. E na minha perspetiva o que é interessante é que alguns desses mesmos professores que estão nesse ambiente usam críticas marxistas nos seus trabalhos, havendo quase uma desconexão com esse mesmo trabalho. Nem sei como compreender isto.

David Harvey  31:21
Bem, penso que se queremos ser publicados precisamos de encontrar um editor e o editor é uma instituição capitalista. Agora, o interessante sobre a publicação é que os editores tendem a publicar qualquer coisa que vende. Portanto, é possível publicar se tiver uma perspetiva crítica, desde que venda. Obviamente, existem alguns livros que vendem amplamente e têm um grande impacto. E historicamente, é claro, The Other America, de Harrington, nos anos 60, de repente explodiu toda a questão da pobreza nos Estados Unidos. Um livro como o de Piketty, apesar de ter sido crítico, abriu e apoiou muito o que o movimento Occupy estava a fazer, falando sobre os problemas de 1%. O Piketty documentou muito disto, então é extremamente útil. Então, sim, precisa de usar meios capitalistas para fins anticapitalistas. Mas essa é, de facto, uma das contradições centrais da nossa própria situação social. É claro que existem alternativas para fazê-lo, através das redes sociais e do uso de uma espécie de Copyleft de um certo tipo, mas isso torna-se um pouco problemático se alguém precisar do dinheiro com o que quer que publique. Então, sim, existe o processo de trabalho, mas a coisa boa, pelo menos, que eu diria sobre o processo de trabalho para académicos é que ninguém é o seu chefe – faz isso por si mesmo. E Marx tem uma pergunta muito interessante: “Milton, ao escrever Paradise Lost, criou valor?” E a resposta é: “Não, ele escreveu frases maravilhosas”.

Ele diz que Milton escreveu Paradise Lost da mesma maneira que o bicho-da-seda produz seda; ele fez isso pela sua própria natureza. Isso só se tornou uma mercadoria, quando ele vendeu os direitos por cinco libras para alguém. E então tornou-se uma mercadoria, mas não faz parte do capital – só se tornou capital quando o livreiro começou a usá-lo como uma forma de circular o capital. E assim, gosto de pensar no meu trabalho como uma espécie de trabalho de bicho-da-seda – faço-o pela minha própria natureza, e não por algum tipo de instrução de algum editor. Então, eu faço isto porque quero, quero comunicar algo, poucos sindicatos a lutar por seus direitos, e tenho algo a dizer, e quero torná-lo público.

Will Brehm  34:37
E não pode deixar de o fazer.

David Harvey  34:38
Certo, e muito desse trabalho está disponível em acesso aberto, gratuito, no sítio da internet, por exemplo, mas depois há a pessoa escrita, os companheiros do Capital de Marx, que acompanham as palestras. Algumas pessoas gostam do formato da palestra e outras consideram-no difícil, preferindo o formato escrito. Portanto, o formato escrito está no mundo editorial.

Will Brehm  35:07
Sim, e penso que apenas esperamos que haja mais pessoas na academia como você que estejam a fazer isso pela sua própria natureza, e não muito preocupadas com a forma como isto se torna uma mercadoria.

David Harvey  35:20
Menos e menos. E esse é um dos problemas, julgo. Cada vez menos, toda uma geração de académicos foi criada dentro desse aparato disciplinar, que é necessário produzir muito disto, tantos artigos desse tipo dentro de um certo período de tempo para manter a sua posição. Portanto, há cada vez menos isto porque, quando está pressionado sob este tipo de condição, não pode demorar 10 anos para escrever um livro.

Levei 10 anos para escrever Limits to Capital e, durante esse período, não publiquei muito e, nas condições contemporâneas, estaria sob um stress real, devido ao facto de não ser produtivo o suficiente e todo o resto, estando sujeito a dizerem-me: “Necessita de produzir mais”. E há muitas coisas que aconteceram como resultado; a qualidade da publicação académica diminuiu muito significativamente à medida que a quantidade aumentou. Outra coisa é que, em vez de realizar uma investigação profunda e real, o que leva muito tempo, é muito melhor escrever um artigo em que critica outra pessoa. Digamos que, apenas, se envolve em coisas críticas e pode escrever um artigo em seis meses tornando o tempo de rotatividade da academia mais curto, tornando os projetos de longo prazo difíceis de concretizar.

Will Brehm  36:54
Isto lembra-me o recente escândalo no The Third World Quarterly, o artigo publicado por – penso que por um americano, não tenho 100% de certeza – mas que basicamente argumentou num artigo porque precisamos ver o colonialismo como bom. Nenhuma investigação, apenas esse tipo de argumento diabólico que, realmente, deixa as pessoas chateadas. E, é claro, torna-se instantaneamente o artigo de maior leitura no The Third World Quarterly, que existe há 60 anos. E então, é claro, o conselho editorial meio que renunciou em protesto, mas apenas se resume nisso.

David Harvey  37:39
Sim, e é claro, também recebe muitas citações e, de repente, ele dirige-se ao chefe de departamento e diz: “O meu trabalho está a ser muito citado, dê-me mais dinheiro”.

Will Brehm  37:52
Sim, é isso, e a universidade que ele está afeto não o criticou, foi tratado como um assunto que diz respeito à diversidade de opinião. É um exemplo de como se pode jogar com o sistema académico em detrimento de pensar profundamente, como estava a referir com os 10 anos que demorou a escrever um livro. Considera que Marx teria sido um bom académico?

David Harvey  38:13
Não, teria sido terrível! Ele nunca teria conseguido um cargo em nenhum lugar. Primeiro, ninguém saberia em que disciplina colocá-lo. Eu tenho um pouco esse problema. Quero dizer, venho da geografia, mas muitas pessoas pensam que sou sociólogo ou outra coisa. Mas ele não se encaixa facilmente em nenhuma disciplina. E, em segundo lugar, ele não concluiu muito do seu trabalho. Eu tinha sempre uma pequena coisa na minha secretária que dizia: ele tinha uma carta da sua editora que dizia: “Prezado professor Marx, ainda não recebemos o seu manuscrito Das Kapital. Pode, por favor, facultá-lo dentro de seis meses, ou teremos que contratar outra pessoa para escrever este trabalho? ”

Will Brehm  39:05
Sabe se ele cumpriu alguma meta?

David Harvey  39:07
Não, claro que não cumpriu.

Will Brehm  39:10
Quanto tempo demorou a escrever O Capital? O primeiro número.

David Harvey  39:15
Eu julgo que foram aproximadamente 15 anos.

Will Brehm  39:22
E há três volumes no nome dele de O Capital, mas o terceiro foi co-escrito ou compilado.

David Harvey  39:29
Bem, dois volumes, o número dois e três foram compilados por Engles. Tem havido muita discussão sobre o quanto Engles os fabricou, e até que ponto ele fez parecer que eram documentos perto de estarem prontos para publicação deixados por Marx. Atualmente há muita discussão crítica sobre este aspeto porque os manuscritos estão disponíveis gratuitamente e as pessoas estão a lê-los com muito cuidado, sendo possível ver o que Engles construiu e o texto real, e eles estão a encontrar todo tipo de coisas que Engles adicionou ou não. Portanto, há um exercício académico interessante em curso.

Will Brehm  40:14
Era suposto haver mais do que três volumes?

David Harvey  40:16

Will Brehm  40:17

David Harvey  40:19
Depende de como os conta. No Grundrisse, ele fez várias propostas – os três volumes que ele já tem de O Capital, depois um sobre o Estado, outro sobre o Mercado e Comércio Mundial e outro sobre as Crises. Portanto, havia pelo menos três outros, e é possível encontrar outros lugares onde ele mencionou outras coisas para as quais era necessário olhar. De facto, a questão do trabalho assalariado é abordado de certa forma no primeiro volume de O Capital, mas Marx nunca realmente escreveu uma explicação e discussão muito sofisticada sobre a determinação de salários. Ele tinha em mente fazer isso, mas ele tinha alguns pensamentos preliminares sobre isso, mas esses pensamentos preliminares acabaram no primeiro volume de O Capital. Julgo que ele queira ter um volume inteiro só sobre salário. Mas, como disse, partes dessa ideia acabaram por estar presentes no primeiro volume de O Capital, mas não tudo.

Will Brehm  41:41
Trabalho por acabar, presumo.

David Harvey  41:43
E uma das coisas que penso que deveríamos estar a fazer – aqueles que estão familiarizados com o texto – é tentar encontrar formas de concluir o que ele estava a falar nos três volumes de O Capital, o que eu tentei fazer no meu último livro.

Will Brehm  42:03
Então, na verdade, levanta um bom ponto: quem mais do que a próxima geração de pensadores marxistas – quero dizer, você passou 50 anos a fazê-lo. Quem vê hoje, da nova geração, a desempenhar esse papel?

David Harvey  42:21
A resposta para essa pergunta é: “Não tenho muita certeza”. Porque existe uma grande lacuna entre as pessoas da minha geração ou próximas da minha, com cerca de 60 anos ou mais, e a geração mais jovem entre os 20 e os 30 anos.

Will Brehm  42:39

David Harvey  42:40
Sim, existem muitas pessoas dessa geração que estão realmente muito interessadas em explorar Marx com muito mais detalhe. No meio, quase não há ninguém. E as pessoas que lá estavam abandonaram amplamente o que estavam a fazer e tornaram-se meio que neoliberalizadas, e tudo mais. Portanto, existem algumas pessoas no meio, obviamente. Portanto, não está completamente em branco, mas tenho muita fé na sua geração, na verdade, porque penso que sua geração está a levar isto muito mais a sério. Julgo que parece uma necessidade mais convincente que eles precisem de algum tipo de análise desse tipo. Considero que o que minha geração é obrigada a fazer, que é o que tenho tentado fazer, penso que na última década, na verdade, por meio do que chamo de Projeto Marx, é produzir uma leitura de Marx mais aberta e fluída, e mais relacionado com a vida quotidiana e não muito académica. Então, tentei produzir estas interpretações de Marx que são simples, mas não simplistas. É muito difícil negociar essa distinção, mas esse tem sido meu objetivo. Um dos aspetos que considero encorajadores é o facto de esta missão estar a ter uma reação bastante positiva.

Will Brehm  44:13
Portanto, Marx era conhecido por ser muito bem lido. E ele era um belo escritor O Capital – primeiro volume é absolutamente uma bela leitura, e ele realmente baseia-se numa variedade ampla de outros escritores. Eu pergunto-me: está a ler alguém académico contemporâneo, ou talvez um artista, ou um cineasta capaz de trazer uma variedade tão grande de pensamentos para a criação de algumas obras de arte ou algum trabalho académico de forma tão bela como Marx fez há 150 anos?

David Harvey  44:57
Eu considero que existem pessoas que têm uma perspetiva mais ampla sobre Marx. Penso em alguém como Terry Eagleton, pode trazer muitas questões culturais e, no seu livro sobre porque Marx estava certo, penso que fez um ótimo trabalho em retomar o espírito de Marx como pensador emancipatório. Penso que existem pessoas que são capazes de fazer isso, mas alguém que conhece a filosofia grega, ou Hegel de dentro para fora, Milton, Shakespeare, sabe – isto apenas confunde a mente de que alguém  se pode sentar com tudo isso na mente e produzir um trabalho fascinante, penso em como interpretá-lo.

Will Brehm  46:02
David Harvey, muito obrigado por se juntar ao FreshEd. Realmente não foi um prazer conversar; foi uma honra realmente falar consigo hoje.

David Harvey  46:08
O prazer foi meu em conversar consigo e lembre-se, é a sua geração que precisa fazer isto. Por isso, mãos à obra.

Will Brehm  46:15
Voltarei ao meu livro de 10 anos.

David Harvey  46:18

Translation by Rui da Silva

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Will Brehm 4:44
David Harvey, bienvenue à FreshEd.

David Harvey 4:47

Will Brehm 4:49
Nous voici donc assis à l’université de Musashi à Tokyo. C’est à la veille de la conférence de la Société japonaise d’économie politique, où vous allez prononcer un discours. Vous êtes assis dans un cadre universitaire comme celui-ci depuis plus de 50 ans maintenant. Comment votre compréhension de la valeur de l’enseignement supérieur a-t-elle évolué dans le temps et dans l’espace ?

David Harvey 5:14
Mon évaluation n’a pas beaucoup changé, elle est restée assez constante. Les conditions de l’enseignement supérieur ont vraiment été radicalement transformées. Et il a donc été très difficile de maintenir mes valeurs en vie face à ce que j’appellerais la corporatisation et la néolibéralisation de l’université. Et donc la nature de la lutte pour garder des espaces ouverts, où les opinions dissidentes peuvent être librement développées et exprimées, cette lutte est beaucoup plus difficile aujourd’hui qu’elle ne l’était il y a 20 ou 30 ans. Mais il y a 40 ou 50 ans, elle était également difficile. C’est donc comme s’il y avait eu un grand cycle de : Il était une fois très dur, et puis c’est devenu plus facile parce que les batailles étaient gagnées, et puis nous sommes devenus complaisants. Et puis la réaction s’est installée et maintenant c’est devenu plus dur.

Will Brehm 6:18
Alors, comment c’était au début, dans les années 1960 ? Quand vous avez dit que c’était difficile à l’époque, qu’est-ce qui l’a rendu difficile ? Qu’est-ce qui était difficile ?

David Harvey 6:26
Eh bien, c’était très hiérarchique. Les professeurs étaient des dieux que vous ne pouviez pas défier. Il y avait une certaine orthodoxie qui était assez uniforme, je dirais, dans le monde dans lequel je vivais, en termes de quel type de théorie sociale était admissible et laquelle ne l’était pas. Je n’ai jamais rencontré beaucoup de pensées de Marx, par exemple, jusqu’à l’âge de 35 ans. Et puis je l’ai rencontré par hasard, et je m’y suis mis par hasard. Et il y a eu une lutte considérable. Comme je publiais de plus en plus de choses où je citais Marx comme étant intéressant, où les gens me traitaient immédiatement de marxiste, je ne me suis pas appelé marxiste, on m’a appelé marxiste. Et après environ 10 ans de ce traitement, j’ai abandonné et j’ai dit : “Bon, je dois être marxiste alors si vous dites tous que je suis marxiste”. Mais tout ce que je faisais, c’était lire Marx et dire : “En fait, il y a des choses ici qui sont très intéressantes et très significatives.” Et, bien sûr, cela a une teinte politique que j’ai trouvée très attirante. Et cela m’a aidé à un moment très difficile dans le sens où aux États-Unis, où je viens de m’installer à la fin des années 60, il y a eu des soulèvements urbains partout où se trouvaient des populations marginalisées. Et la ville où j’ai déménagé, Baltimore, l’année précédant mon arrivée, avait été en grande partie incendiée lors d’un soulèvement racial.

Et bien sûr, la guerre du Vietnam était en cours, le mouvement anti-guerre, le mouvement pour la liberté d’expression commençait à faire des incursions dans l’université et le mouvement étudiant était très fort, très puissant. Et en même temps, il y a beaucoup de résistance à cela. Il y a donc eu une période de lutte très active de la fin des années 1960 jusqu’au milieu et à la fin des années 1970.

Will Brehm 8:27
Et au début, avez-vous vu l’influence du capital, vous savez, dans l’université quand vous avez commencé ?

David Harvey 8:37
Eh bien, il a toujours été évident que les universités étaient liées à des classes sociales. Ma formation à Cambridge, par exemple, m’a tout de suite fait rencontrer la classe et Cambridge comme je ne l’avais jamais fait à la maison, quand les gens des écoles publiques qui sont très riches étaient là, et ils semblent, vous savez, s’amuser en quelque sorte et je transpirais à l’idée d’être un bon étudiant. Et à la fin, vous savez, c’est moi qui ai en quelque sorte obtenu les honneurs académiques, mais ils s’en fichaient parce qu’ils partaient travailler dans l’entreprise de papa à Londres et étaient ultra riches au sein … Et j’ai fini par toucher une sorte de salaire de professeur assistant, ce qui était une bagatelle à l’époque, et je luttais pour survivre. La formation était donc toujours présente dans l’enseignement, mais je ne pense pas que les gros capitaux contrôlaient l’université comme ils le font maintenant. Mon éducation, par exemple, a été financée par l’État tout au long de ma scolarité jusqu’à mon doctorat. J’ai donc bénéficié d’une éducation gratuite et il est clair que dans ces conditions, on se sent capable d’explorer tout ce qu’on veut explorer.

Will Brehm 10:00
Étiez-vous politiquement actif lorsque vous étiez à Cambridge ?

David Harvey 10:05
Je suis, je dirais, issu d’un milieu où il y avait une certaine sympathie pour le parti travailliste et le socialisme et je suppose que l’étendue de mes convictions politiques était en gros socialiste fabienne. Mais vers la fin des années 60, je commençais à être désillusionné par rapport à des choses comme la guerre du Vietnam. Et le fait que les Premiers ministres travaillistes britanniques promettaient de grandes choses, mais qu’ils finissaient par succomber au pouvoir du grand argent. Et – comme l’a dit Harold Wilson – les gnomes de Zurich devaient être satisfaits.

J’ai donc commencé à croire qu’il y avait, peut-être, quelque chose qui clochait avec notre situation politique, en même temps que j’ai découvert que beaucoup des appareils théoriques que je comprenais de l’économie, de la sociologie et des sciences politiques n’étaient pas vraiment adéquats pour comprendre les problèmes que j’étudiais sur le terrain. En particulier dans la ville de Baltimore, où, comme je l’ai dit, il y a eu un soulèvement urbain l’année précédant mon arrivée et j’ai participé à de nombreuses études sur les questions suivantes : “Pourquoi cela s’est-il produit”, “Quels étaient les problèmes du marché du logement” et j’ai commencé à travailler sur les problèmes du marché du logement. Et constatant que la théorie économique ne m’aidait pas à un moment ou à un autre, j’ai décidé d’aller lire Marx pour voir s’il y avait quelque chose là-dedans. Et bien sûr, j’ai trouvé que c’était très utile pour aborder des questions pratiques.

Will Brehm 11:44
Donc Marx, comme je l’ai appris, en fait, grâce à certains de vos enseignements qui sont en ligne, définit le capital comme “la valeur en mouvement”. Et je voulais vous demander : Est-ce que ce concept s’applique à l’éducation ? Peut-être spécifiquement à l’enseignement supérieur aujourd’hui, parce que vous avez dit que les gros capitaux en sont maintenant venus à dominer les universités. Alors, que pensez-vous du capital dans les universités ? Et comment pensons-nous à la valeur en mouvement dans les universités ?

David Harvey 12:13
Oui, la masse du capital est bien sûr en mouvement, et s’accélère sans cesse, mais le capital a besoin de certaines infrastructures. Mais le capital a besoin de certaines infrastructures. Il a besoin d’infrastructures physiques, qui sont durables – des autoroutes, des routes, des ports, des choses de ce genre, qui nécessitent des investissements de capitaux à long terme. De même, il a besoin d’investissements à long terme dans l’éducation, car les qualités de la main-d’œuvre deviennent un problème de plus en plus préoccupant pour le capital au fil du temps, bien plus qu’à l’époque de Marx. Vous voulez une main-d’œuvre bien formée et instruite. Et vous en avez aussi besoin du point de vue du renouvellement de la société bourgeoise, qu’il y ait beaucoup d’innovation et que les universités de recherche deviennent des centres d’innovation. Bien sûr, l’une des choses les plus folles auxquelles je pense aujourd’hui, c’est que l’on réduit considérablement le financement de l’enseignement supérieur, alors qu’en fait, les investissements considérables dans l’enseignement supérieur dans les années 1960 ont créé un environnement qui, aujourd’hui encore, explique en grande partie pourquoi les États-Unis restent si forts dans l’économie mondiale, parce que vous avez une main-d’œuvre très instruite, à l’esprit d’entreprise, mais vous réduisez maintenant tout cela, et la main-d’œuvre est de moins en moins susceptible d’être innovante, parce qu’elle est de plus en plus endettée. Vous avez donc en fait une structure d’éducation qui sape ce dont le capital a vraiment besoin. Mais néanmoins, une partie du capital doit passer par les universités de manière à créer cette main-d’œuvre. Et c’est un projet à long terme qui coûte, parce qu’en quelque sorte, où les bénéfices et sortent 10, peut-être même 15 ans plus tard.

Will Brehm 14:14
Et je pense que l’une des choses qui me fascine en ce moment, comme en Amérique et probablement dans d’autres pays, c’est le montant de la dette des étudiants pour participer au futur marché du travail. Et j’y pense parfois en termes de cette idée des désirs, des besoins et des souhaits du capital, comme cette idée qu’il y a un tel désir d’être éduqué, que les gens s’endettent de milliers de dollars, ce qui limite vraiment leurs perspectives d’avenir. Quelle est votre opinion sur cette dette massive à laquelle les étudiants sont confrontés de nos jours ?

David Harvey 14:51
Je pense que le problème général de la circulation du capital est que la circulation de la dette est devenue de plus en plus le point central de ce qui se passe dans l’économie capitaliste. Et donc, l’endettement prend de nombreuses formes différentes, à cause de l’endettement que les gens contractent du côté des consommateurs. Et, bien sûr, dans la mesure où l’éducation est devenue une marchandise qu’il fallait acheter. Les gens ont donc besoin d’une demande effective et s’ils n’ont pas l’argent, ils doivent l’emprunter. Et c’est ainsi que l’on a maintenant l’endettement d’une population étudiante. Et cela hypothèque l’avenir. Et d’une certaine manière, c’est une forme de contrôle social, de la même manière que l’on disait dans les années 1930 que les dettes des propriétaires de maisons ne se mettent pas en grève. Ainsi, les étudiants grevés de dettes ne font pas de vagues. Ils veulent garder leur emploi, ils ne veulent pas être licenciés, parce qu’ils ont toutes ces dettes à rembourser. Il y a donc beaucoup de preuves, me semble-t-il, que la population des étudiants diplômés est beaucoup moins susceptible de prendre des risques que dans la situation où je me trouvais, par exemple, en sortant de Cambridge avec un doctorat sans dette.

Et puis vous pouvez aller faire ce que vous voulez, et vous n’avez pas cela en tête. Mais maintenant, les gens ont cette menace sur eux. C’est donc à la fois un mécanisme de contrôle social et un moyen de conserver le capital pour l’avenir, car la dette est une créance sur le travail futur, et c’est une créance sur l’avenir. Donc, en fait, nous avons verrouillé l’avenir des gens en augmentant les niveaux d’endettement. Et cela signifie qu’il est difficile d’imaginer une transformation du capitalisme, parce qu’il y a tant de dettes. Je suis personnellement devenu nerveux parce que mon fonds de pension est investi dans la dette. Donc si nous abolissons la dette, vous abolissez mes fonds de pension. Mon fonds de pension devient donc une partie cruciale du problème. J’ai donc cette ambivalence ; je vois le marché boursier s’effondrer et je me dis “Yay, c’est la fin du capitalisme”. Et puis je me dis : “Oh, mon Dieu, qu’est-ce qui arrive à mon fonds de pension ?” Mais c’est une sorte de situation contradictoire dans laquelle nous nous trouvons tous et c’est une des choses qui donne en fait une certaine stabilité sociale et politique au capitalisme que lorsque le capital a des problèmes, et j’ai dit : “Nous devons sauver les banques”. Nous disons : “Non, ne faites pas ça.” Et puis quelqu’un se tourne vers nous et nous dit : “Si vous ne sauvez pas les banques, désolé, toutes vos économies ont disparu.” Alors vous vous retournez et dites : “Ok, allez sauver les banques.”

Will Brehm 17:37
Oui, je veux souligner que ce qui m’intéresse, c’est que l’éducation, à certains égards, est considérée par les gens comme un facteur de transformation, et peut-être un lieu où aller vraiment à l’encontre de certaines normes systémiques. Donc, vous savez, comme le capitalisme, mais en même temps, le système que nous avons créé, comme vous l’avez dit, est fondamentalement en train de verrouiller l’avenir, et de rendre les gens moins capables de prendre des risques, et peut-être de défier ce système. Et cela me fait penser à l’érudit [Maurizio Lazzarato, qui dit, la dette dans l’éducation, l’enseignement supérieur, ce que nous commençons à réaliser c’est que la valeur, le but, de l’enseignement supérieur est d’enseigner la dette. Les étudiants apprennent l’endettement par le biais du système pour les préparer à devenir de bons travailleurs capitalistes à l’avenir.

David Harvey 18:23
C’est vrai. Mais l’autre côté de la médaille est que les étudiants apprennent de moins en moins à être critiques. Leurs facultés critiques s’érodent et nous avons des situations où les étudiants disent : “Oh, ne m’ennuyez pas avec tout ça, dites-moi juste ce que je dois savoir pour obtenir ma certification”. Et je l’obtiens, et ensuite je peux partir et utiliser cette qualification. Il s’agit donc de la qualification plutôt que de développer un mode de pensée particulier, ce qui est essentiel. Et d’un côté, le capital n’aime pas la pensée critique, parce qu’à un moment ou à un autre, comme cela s’est produit à la fin des années 60, beaucoup de gens ont commencé à être très critiques à l’égard du capital. Le capital n’aime donc pas cela. D’un autre côté, si vous n’avez pas de pensée critique, il n’y a pas d’innovation. Et le capital s’assoit et dit : “Pourquoi n’y a-t-il pas plus de choses innovantes ? Et c’est parce que les gens ne savent pas comment penser par eux-mêmes. Et en fait, on se plaint maintenant – je ne sais pas si vous avez rencontré cela – de la main-d’œuvre qui sort des universités et qui est incapable de résoudre les problèmes, parce qu’elle ne sait pas penser par elle-même. Ils veulent juste trouver une solution à laquelle ils se branchent. Ils veulent donc des informations, mais ils n’ont pas la capacité critique d’être réellement des résolveurs de problèmes. Et il y a beaucoup de plaintes maintenant, parmi le capital des entreprises, sur l’incapacité de cette jeune génération à répondre aux besoins du monde du travail.

Will Brehm 20:02
Je veux donc dire, étant donné cet environnement dans l’enseignement supérieur – et vous, vous travaillez dans l’enseignement supérieur. Je pense que vous continuez à enseigner aussi ?

David Harvey 20:09
Oui, j’enseigne un peu.

Will Brehm 20:11
Donc, Marx était très intéressé par la pratique quotidienne, et par votre pratique quotidienne en tant que professeur, mais peut-être plus largement, en tant que citoyen : Comment naviguez-vous dans le système, ces contradictions, comme vous dites ? D’un côté, vous applaudissez la chute de la bourse, mais de l’autre, vous vous lamentez sur l’effondrement de votre fonds de pension. Comment faites-vous face à ces contradictions et comment continuez-vous à être politiquement actif ?

David Harvey 20:37
Eh bien, par exemple, je peux commencer par cette histoire et cette contradiction dans ma propre vie. Et puis nous demanderons aux élèves : “Pouvez-vous constater des contradictions similaires ?” Et, par exemple, toute cette dette, et parler des choses dont nous avons parlé. Et si vous faites cela, les gens comprennent tout de suite. Et donc, vous commencez peut-être à penser que le système est un problème, et que nous devons faire quelque chose pour y remédier, et ensuite que nous devons en apprendre beaucoup plus sur le fonctionnement du système. Et à ce moment-là, vous pouvez entrer dans les choses. L’autre chose que je voudrais faire, cependant, c’est – j’ai toujours, bien sûr, été intéressé par l’urbanisation. Et si vous êtes dans une grande ville, et si vous êtes dans une grande université dans une grande ville, il me semble que vous avez un monde éducatif énorme qui vous permet de sortir dans la rue et de commencer à impliquer les gens dans une certaine mesure sur ce qui se passe dans la rue. L’une des grandes qualités de l’enseignement à la City University of New York est que nous avons tendance à avoir des étudiants qui sont très proches de la rue et qui sont sortis pour participer à des mouvements sociaux, ce qui fait que je n’ai pas besoin de leur dire d’aller voir ce qui se passe dans la rue parce qu’ils en savent beaucoup plus que moi. Et ce qu’ils viennent me voir, c’est pour me dire : “Comment puis-je comprendre tout cela ? “C’est pourquoi j’essaie de leur dire : “Bon, d’accord, étudions Marx et voyons comment ce que vous vivez est lié à ce mode de pensée”, et j’essaie ainsi de parvenir à une sorte de perspective théorique critique.

Will Brehm 22:32
Il est incroyable de penser que les écrits de Marx d’il y a 150 ans sont toujours pertinents pour aider à donner un sens à la vie des étudiants aujourd’hui.

David Harvey 22:44
C’est vrai. En fait, c’est encore plus vrai. Je veux dire, le point ici est que si vous disiez dans les années 1850, “Où le mode de production capitaliste était-il dominant ?” et qu’il ne l’était qu’en Grande-Bretagne, en Europe occidentale et dans la partie orientale des États-Unis et partout ailleurs, il y avait des marchands et ainsi de suite et qu’aujourd’hui bien sûr, il domine partout. Il y a donc un sens dans lequel la théorie que Marx a construite pour traiter de ce monde de production industrielle capitaliste est maintenant devenue mondiale. Et elle est plus pertinente que je ne l’ai jamais été auparavant.

Je tiens donc à le souligner auprès des gens, parce que beaucoup de gens aiment écrire sur Marx et dire : “Eh bien, vous savez, c’était à propos de ce qui se passait à l’époque”. Et je réponds : “Eh bien, non, en fait à l’époque, il y avait toutes sortes d’autres choses qui se passaient dans le monde en dehors de l’accumulation de votre capital.” Aujourd’hui, il n’y a pratiquement aucun endroit dans le monde où l’accumulation de capital n’est pas dominante.

Will Brehm 23:50
Je sais, et c’est incroyable de penser à ce que c’est, c’est tellement omniprésent, c’est tellement mondial, ça s’infiltre dans des parties de la vie, comme l’université qui n’avait pas normalement, ou n’avait pas historiquement ce genre de logique. Et puis, je suppose que je deviens un peu pessimiste et que je me dis : “Eh bien, par où commencer pour résister ? Et comment résister quand il s’agit d’un système si massif et si difficile à situer à l’extérieur ?

David Harvey 24:21
Mais je pense qu’il existe beaucoup de réticences en son sein. J’insiste beaucoup sur le concept d’aliénation de Marx, qui, vous savez, n’a pas été très fortement articulé, je pense, dans la tradition marxiste, en partie parce que quelqu’un comme [Louis] Althusser a dit que c’était un concept non scientifique. Alors que je pense que c’est un concept très profondément important. Et si vous disiez : “Combien de personnes sont aliénées par les conditions de travail actuelles ?” Et les conditions de travail ne concernent pas seulement l’aspect physique du travail et la quantité d’argent que vous obtenez. Il s’agit également de la notion d’avoir un emploi valorisant et une vie valorisante, et les emplois valorisants sont de plus en plus difficiles à trouver.

J’ai une fille de 27 ans et sa génération regarde le marché du travail et dit qu’il n’y a pas grand-chose de valorisant, alors je préfère être barman plutôt que de prendre un de ces emplois sans intérêt. On se trouve donc dans une sorte d’aliénation par rapport à la situation de l’emploi, parce que le sens du travail a disparu. Il existe une grande aliénation par rapport à la vie urbaine quotidienne, aux niveaux de pollution, aux dégâts causés par les systèmes de transport et les embouteillages, et aux tracas liés à la vie quotidienne en ville. Il y a donc une aliénation de l’espace de vie, puis une aliénation de la politique, parce que les décisions politiques semblent être prises quelque part dans la stratosphère et que vous n’êtes pas vraiment en mesure de les influencer, sauf au niveau très local du quartier. Et il y a un sentiment d’aliénation de la nature et d’aliénation d’une sorte de concept de la nature humaine. Et vous regardez une personnalité comme Trump et vous vous dites : “Est-ce le genre de personne que j’aimerais être” et “Est-ce le genre d’être humain que nous voulons encourager à peupler la terre ? Est-ce que c’est ce que le monde va devenir ?” Et donc je pense qu’il y a beaucoup de mécontentement au sein du système.

Les gens mécontents peuvent bien sûr voter de toutes sortes de manières et ce que nous voyons en Europe et ailleurs, ce sont des choses politiques assez folles qui se passent. Et je pense qu’ici la gauche a un certain problème du fait que nous n’avons pas abordé tous ces sentiments politiques et que nous n’avons pas proposé une sorte de politique active pour trouver de meilleures solutions. Nous avons donc laissé le jeu disparaître et je pense que, dans une certaine mesure, cela a beaucoup à voir avec ce que j’appellerais en fait le conservatisme de la gauche.

Les marxistes, par exemple, sont incroyablement conservateurs et vous savez que j’ai perdu le compte du nombre de fois où, dans une discussion, j’ai été ramené à devoir discuter de Lénine. Bon, d’accord, j’admire Lénine et je pense qu’il était important de lire à son sujet, mais je ne pense pas que le sujet soit d’actualité. Je ne veux pas me perdre dans tous ces arguments sur la question de savoir si c’était Lénine ou le Luxembourg, ou, vous savez, “Qui est Trotsky ?” ou qui avait raison. Je veux en parler maintenant. Je veux parler de la critique marxiste maintenant, de ce qu’elle nous dit, puis parler et se dire : “Comment construire alors une alternative à ce très large sentiment de désillusion qui existe dans la société ?

Will Brehm 28:18
Pensez-vous que l’éducation au sens large, ou peut-être l’enseignement supérieur en particulier, peut contribuer à la construction de cette alternative basée sur votre critique marxiste ?

David Harvey 28:28
Il peut l’être, et il devrait l’être. Le problème actuel est que l’enseignement supérieur est de plus en plus dominé par l’argent privé et qu’il est devenu privatisé ; le financement est devenu privatisé. Et lorsqu’il était financé par l’État, il existait toujours des contraintes, mais pas aussi strictes qu’aujourd’hui. Et fondamentalement, les grands capitaux et les sociétés vont financer/donner des sommes massives aux universités pour construire des centres de recherche. Mais les centres de recherche ont pour but de trouver des solutions techniques ; ils ont très rarement autre chose qu’une préoccupation nominale pour les questions sociales. Ils ne s’intéressent pas – je veux dire, par exemple, au domaine de l’environnement, à ces instituts qui se penchent sur les questions environnementales. Et c’est une question de technologies. Et tout cela concerne les dispositions fiscales, ou quelque chose de ce genre. Il ne s’agit pas de consulter les gens. Il ne s’agit pas de discussions de ce genre.

Lorsque nous faisions des recherches sur ces questions dans les années 1960, il existait toujours une forte participation du public et des discussions publiques. Aujourd’hui, une sorte de solution technocratique est imposée d’en haut au problème environnemental, qui est en cours d’élaboration. Et si vous vous intéressez au problème environnemental d’un point de vue social, il est probable que vous soyez quelque part dans les sciences humaines et que vous puissiez organiser un petit symposium en sciences humaines sur la façon dont, lorsque vous commencez à être très politique à ce sujet, mais les ingénieurs et les technocrates bien financés dans ces instituts de recherche ne seront pas très enthousiastes à l’idée de vous écouter.

Will Brehm 30:10
De la même manière, je suis parfois étonné de voir comment, dans les universités, le travail des professeurs consiste à écrire des documents et à travailler beaucoup plus longtemps que la semaine de travail normale, et qu’il y a très peu de syndicats qui se battent pour leurs droits. Et ce qui est plus important, je pense, c’est que, vous savez, il y a un système tellement pervers ou fou dans la mesure où les universitaires dépensent tout ce travail pour écrire des articles qui sont ensuite publiés dans ces sociétés à but lucratif qui vendent ensuite des revues et des articles et très peu d’argent revient au professeur qui a fait le travail réel. Et pendant ce temps, le PDG de Wiley, qui est une grande société d’édition, gagne quelque chose comme 4 millions de dollars par an. Tout cela semble tellement faussé. Et ce qui est intéressant dans mon esprit, c’est que certains de ces mêmes professeurs qui sont dans cet environnement, ils utilisent des critiques marxistes dans leur travail, mais il y a presque comme une déconnexion avec leur propre travail. Et je ne sais pas comment donner un sens à cela parfois.

David Harvey 31:21
Je pense que si vous voulez être publié, vous devez trouver un éditeur et l’éditeur est une institution capitaliste. Ce qui est intéressant dans l’édition, c’est que les éditeurs ont tendance à publier tout ce qui se vend. Il est donc possible, si vous avez un point de vue critique, d’être publié si cela se vend. Il y a donc évidemment des livres qui se vendent bien et qui ont un impact important. Historiquement, bien sûr, The Other America de Harrington, dans les années 60, a soudainement fait exploser toute la question de la pauvreté aux États-Unis. Un livre comme celui de Piketty pour l’ensemble, bien que j’aie été critique à son égard, s’est néanmoins ouvert et a beaucoup soutenu ce que faisait le mouvement Occupy, et a parlé des problèmes du 1%. Et Piketty en a documenté beaucoup, donc c’est extrêmement utile. Donc oui, vous devez utiliser des moyens capitalistes à des fins anticapitalistes. Mais c’est, en fait, une des contradictions qui est au cœur de notre propre situation sociale. Il existe bien sûr des alternatives pour le faire par le biais des médias sociaux et de l’utilisation d’une sorte de Copyleft, mais cela devient un peu problématique si quelqu’un a besoin de l’argent de ce qu’il publie. Donc oui, il y a le processus de travail mais la bonne chose que je dirais au moins à propos du processus de travail pour les universitaires est que personne n’est votre patron – que vous le faites pour vous-même. Et Marx a une question très intéressante : “Est-ce que Milton, en écrivant Paradise Lost, a créé de la valeur ?” Et la réponse est : “Non, il a juste écrit des phrases merveilleuses.”

Il dit que Milton a écrit “Paradise Lost” de la même façon que le ver à soie produit de la soie ; il l’a fait de sa propre nature. Elle n’est devenue une marchandise que lorsqu’il en a vendu les droits pour cinq livres à quelqu’un. Puis il est devenu une marchandise, mais il ne fait pas partie du capital – il n’est devenu un capital que lorsque le libraire a commencé à l’utiliser comme une sorte de moyen de faire circuler le capital. C’est pourquoi j’aime à considérer mon travail comme une sorte de travail de ver à soie – que je le fais par nature, et non sur instruction d’un éditeur. Je le fais donc parce que je veux le faire, je veux communiquer quelque chose, j’ai quelque chose à dire et je veux le faire savoir.

Will Brehm 34:37
Et vous ne pouvez pas ne pas le faire.

David Harvey 34:38
C’est vrai, et une grande partie de ce travail est gratuit comme maintenant sur le site web, par exemple, les gens peuvent le faire et puis il y a la personne écrite, les compagnons de la capitale de Marx, qui vont avec les conférences. Certaines personnes aiment le format des conférences, et d’autres le trouvent difficile, alors elles peuvent passer au format écrit. Le format écrit est donc dans le monde de l’édition.

Will Brehm 35:07
Oui, et je suppose que nous espérons simplement qu’il y a plus de gens dans le monde universitaire comme vous qui font cela de leur propre nature, et qui ne s’inquiètent pas trop de la façon dont cela devient une marchandise.

David Harvey 35:20
De moins en moins. Et c’est l’un des problèmes, je pense. De moins en moins, et toute une génération d’universitaires a été élevée au sein de cet appareil disciplinaire, que vous devez produire tant de ceci, et tant d’articles de ce genre dans un certain laps de temps afin de maintenir votre position. Il y en a donc de moins en moins qui le font, parce que dans ce genre de conditions, on ne peut pas prendre dix ans pour écrire un livre.

J’ai mis dix ans à écrire Limits to Capital, et pendant cette période, je n’ai pas publié beaucoup et dans les conditions actuelles, j’aurais été vraiment stressé par le fait que je n’étais pas assez productif, et tout le reste et ils m’auraient eu et m’auraient dit : “Vous devez produire plus”. Et beaucoup de choses se sont produites en conséquence ; la qualité des publications universitaires a diminué de manière très significative alors que la quantité a augmenté. Et l’autre chose, c’est qu’au lieu d’entreprendre une sorte de recherche vraiment approfondie, qui vous prend beaucoup de temps, il est bien mieux d’écrire un article où vous critiquez quelqu’un d’autre. Supposons que vous vous engagiez dans une sorte de critique et que vous puissiez écrire un article comme un fou en six mois. Ainsi, le temps de renouvellement du personnel universitaire est devenu beaucoup plus court et les projets à long terme sont beaucoup plus difficiles à entreprendre.

Will Brehm 36:54
Cela me rappelle le récent scandale du Third World Quarterly, l’article publié par un Américain, je crois, dont je ne suis pas sûr à 100%. Mais il a essentiellement exposé les raisons pour lesquelles nous devons considérer le colonialisme comme une bonne chose, et il a rassemblé tout l’article. Pas de recherche, juste ce genre d’argument diabolique qui énerve vraiment les gens. Et, bien sûr, il devient instantanément l’article le plus lu dans The Third World Quarterly, qui existe depuis 60 ans. Et puis, bien sûr, le comité de rédaction a en quelque sorte démissionné en signe de protestation, mais cela résume bien ce moment.

David Harvey 37:39
Oui. Et, bien sûr, il reçoit aussi beaucoup de citations et soudain, il va voir son chef de service et lui dit : “Je suis en haut de l’échelle des citations. Donnez-moi plus d’argent”.

Will Brehm 37:52
C’est vrai, et son université n’est pas venue le critiquer. Vous savez, c’est une question de diversité d’opinions. C’est quelque chose que vous pouvez voir comment vous pouvez jouer le système de cette façon avec les universitaires. Au lieu de faire cette réflexion profonde, comme vous en parlez, avec les 10 ans pour écrire un livre. Pensez-vous que Marx aurait été un bon universitaire ?

David Harvey 38:13
Non, il aurait été terrible ! Il n’aurait jamais été titularisé nulle part. D’abord, personne ne saurait dans quelle discipline le mettre. J’ai un peu ce problème. Je veux dire, je viens de la géographie mais beaucoup de gens pensent que je suis sociologue ou autre chose. Mais il ne s’intègre pas facilement dans une discipline. Et puis, deuxièmement, il n’a pas terminé une grande partie de son travail. Et j’avais toujours cette petite chose sur mon bureau : Il avait une lettre de son éditeur, qui disait : “Cher Monsieur le Professeur Marx, nous avons appris que nous n’avons pas encore reçu votre manuscrit de Das Kapital. Pourriez-vous nous le fournir dans les six mois, ou nous devrons charger quelqu’un d’autre d’écrire cette œuvre ?

Will Brehm 39:05
Savez-vous s’il a respecté le délai ?

David Harvey 39:07
Non, bien sûr que non.

Will Brehm 39:10
Combien de temps lui a-t-il fallu pour écrire Capital ? Numéro un.

David Harvey 39:15
Je pense que c’était en gros 15 ans, je crois.

Will Brehm 39:22
Et il existe trois volumes à son nom pour Capital, mais le troisième a été co-écrit ou compilé.

David Harvey 39:29
Eh bien, les deux volumes deux et trois ont été compilés par Engles. Et il y a eu beaucoup de discussions sur la quantité fabriquée par Engles, et il a certainement fait croire que ces notes que Marx avait étaient plus proches de la publication qu’elles ne l’étaient en réalité. Il y a donc beaucoup de discussions critiques parce que les manuscrits sont maintenant disponibles gratuitement et les gens lisent les manuscrits très attentivement, à partir desquels Engles a élaboré le texte réel qui nous est parvenu, et ils trouvent toutes sortes de choses qu’Engles a ajoutées ou manquées. Il y a donc un exercice scientifique intéressant qui se déroule à ce sujet.

Will Brehm 40:14
Il devait y avoir plus de trois volumes ?

David Harvey 40:16

Will Brehm 40:17
Combien de personnes ?

David Harvey 40:19
Cela dépend de la façon dont vous les comptez. Dans le Grundrisse, il a fait plusieurs propositions – les trois volumes qu’il a déjà sur la capitale, puis un sur l’État, un sur le marché mondial et le commerce mondial, et un autre sur les crises. Il y en a donc eu au moins trois autres, et il est possible de trouver d’autres endroits où il a mentionné d’autres choses qu’il doit examiner. En fait, la question du travail salarié, elle est bien sûr couverte dans une certaine mesure dans le premier volume du Capital, mais Marx, n’a jamais vraiment écrit d’explication et de discussion très sophistiquée sur la détermination des salaires. Et il avait l’intention de le faire, mais il est évident qu’il avait quelques idées préliminaires à ce sujet, mais ces idées préliminaires ont fini dans le premier volume du Capital, mais il voulait, je pense, avoir tout un volume sur le travail salarié en soi. Mais comme je l’ai dit, des bribes de cette idée ont abouti dans le premier volume du Capital, mais pas l’ensemble.

Will Brehm 41:41
Un travail inachevé, je suppose.

David Harvey 41:43
Et l’une des choses que nous devrions faire – ceux d’entre nous qui sont familiers avec le texte – c’est d’essayer de trouver des moyens de compléter ce dont il parlait, et de représenter réellement ce dont il parle dans les trois volumes du Capital, ce que j’ai essayé de faire dans le dernier livre.

Will Brehm 42:03
Cela soulève donc en fait un bon point : Qui d’autre dans la prochaine génération de penseurs marxistes – je veux dire, vous avez passé 50 ans à faire cela. Qui, selon vous, prend aujourd’hui la relève de la génération suivante ?

David Harvey 42:21
La réponse à cette question est : “Je ne suis pas tout à fait sûr”. Parce qu’il y a un grand fossé entre les personnes de ma génération ou proches de ma génération, en quelque sorte sexagénaires et plus, et la jeune génération à la fin de la vingtaine, au début de la trentaine.

Will Brehm 42:39
Donc moi.

David Harvey 42:40
Oui, il y a beaucoup de personnes dans cette génération qui sont en fait très intéressées à explorer Marx de façon beaucoup plus détaillée. Entre les deux, il n’y a presque personne. Et les gens qui étaient là ont en grande partie abandonné ce qu’ils faisaient et sont devenus une sorte de néolibéralisation et tout le reste. Il y a donc quelques personnes au milieu, évidemment. Ce n’est donc pas complètement vide, mais j’ai beaucoup de foi en votre génération, en fait, parce que je pense que votre génération prend cela beaucoup plus au sérieux. Je pense qu’elle ressent davantage le besoin impérieux d’une analyse de ce genre. Et je pense que ce que ma génération est obligée de faire, et c’est ce que j’ai essayé de faire, je crois, au cours de la dernière décennie, par le biais de ce que j’appelle The Marx Project, c’est de produire une lecture de Marx qui soit plus ouverte et plus fluide, plus en rapport avec la vie quotidienne et qui ne soit pas trop scolastique. J’ai donc essayé de produire ces interprétations de Marx qui sont simples, mais pas simplistes. Il est très difficile de négocier cette distinction, mais c’était mon objectif. Et l’une des choses que je trouve encourageantes est ce que je considère comme une réaction très positive à cette mission.

Will Brehm 44:13
Marx était donc connu pour être très bien lu. Et c’était un très bel écrivain et Capital – Volume 1 est tout simplement une très belle lecture. Et il s’inspire vraiment d’un si grand nombre d’autres écrivains. Et je me pose des questions : Lisez-vous quelqu’un qui est un chercheur contemporain, ou peut-être un artiste, ou un cinéaste capable d’intégrer une si grande variété de pensées dans la création d’une œuvre d’art ou d’une œuvre savante d’une manière aussi belle que Marx l’a fait il y a 150 ans ?

David Harvey 44:57
Je pense qu’il y a des gens qui ont une perspective plus large sur Marx. Je pense à quelqu’un comme Terry Eagleton, qui peut apporter beaucoup de choses culturelles et qui, dans son petit livre sur les raisons pour lesquelles Marx avait raison, a fait un très bon travail en reprenant l’esprit de Marx en tant que penseur émancipateur et en le poussant à se réaliser. Il y a donc des gens, je pense, qui sont capables de faire cela, mais quelqu’un qui connaît la philosophie grecque, ou Hegel à fond, Milton, Shakespeare, vous savez – cela dépasse l’entendement que quelqu’un puisse s’asseoir là avec tout cela en tête et produire un travail qui est fascinant, je pense en termes de comment l’interpréter.

Will Brehm 46:02
David Harvey, je vous remercie beaucoup d’avoir rejoint FreshEd. Ce n’était pas vraiment un plaisir de parler, c’était un honneur de prendre vraiment la parole aujourd’hui.

David Harvey 46:08
C’était un plaisir de discuter avec vous, et n’oubliez pas que c’est votre génération qui doit le faire. Alors, occupez-vous maintenant.

Will Brehm 46:15
Je vais retourner à mon livre de 10 ans.

David Harvey 46:18

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Ever since the 1983 Nation at Risk report, America has seemingly gone through one educational reform after another. Have these reforms worked? My guest today, Paul Reville, thinks the reforms have correctly focused on the goals of excellence and equity but have not addressed the systemic problems impacting schools.

Paul Reville is the founding director of the Education Redesign Lab at the Harvard. Prior to his time at Harvard, he was the Education Secretary for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. As Governor Patrick’s top education adviser, Paul brings valuable insights to his work of the real-life political challenges that sometimes slow educational change.

Paul is the Francis Keppel Professor of Practice of Educational Policy and Administration at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Citation: Reville, Paul, interview with Will Brehm, FreshEd, 96, podcast audio, November 20, 2017.

Transcript, translation, resources:

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What’s the relationship between test scores and gross domestic product? Do higher test scores lead to higher GDP?

This question may seem a bit strange because most people think about the value of education on a much smaller, less abstract scale, usually in terms of “my children” or “my education.” Will my children earn a higher wage in the future if they do well on school examinations today? If I major in engineering, will I earn a higher income than if I majored in English?

The answer to these question is usually assumed to be a resounding “yes.” Doing better on examinations or studying subjects that are perceived to be more valuable will result in higher wages at the individual level and higher GDP at the national level. Such a belief shapes educational policies and influences educational decision making by families. It has even resulted in a global private tutoring industry that prepares students for tests in hopes of getting ahead.

But what if this assumption isn’t true? What if the relationship between test scores and GDP isn’t so straightforward?

With me today are Hikaru Komatsu and Jeremy Rappleye. Recently they have been publishing numerous articles (see here, here, and here) challenging the statistical research supporting the conclusion that higher tests scores cause higher GDPs. Instead, they find that test scores don’t determine GDP by all that much.

Hikaru Komatsu and Jeremy Rappleye are based at the Graduate School of Education at Kyoto University. Their most recent op-ed appeared in the Washington Post.

Citation: Komatsu, Hikaro and Rappleye, Jeremy, interview with Will Brehm, FreshEd, 71, podcast audio. May 1, 2017.

Will Brehm:  2:12
Hikaru Komatsu and Jeremy Rappleye, welcome to FreshEd.

Hikaru Komatsu:  2:16
Thanks for having us.

Jeremy Rappleye:  2:18
Thank you, Will. Before we begin, let me just say how much I really enjoy your show. And I learned so much from it. And I really applaud you for creating this space and doing such high quality shows week in and week out. So thank you very much for having us.

Will Brehm:  2:30
Thanks for the kind words. You, two have been doing quite a lot of work lately on really challenging some commonplace assumptions between test scores and GDP – gross domestic product. What is the normal relationship many researchers have between test scores? What students know and gross domestic product? How much a country is growing or how much it’s worth?

Jeremy Rappleye:  2:59
Yeah, thanks, Will. I’ll take the first question here, I would say that the common understanding of the relationship between test scores and gross domestic project is the higher your test scores, the greater your future GDP. This is the claim at its most simple and if we try to be more specific, the understanding is that the higher people test scores in a particular population in fields that are, say relevant for economic growth, the higher GDP will be in the future. So relevant fields here are most likely to be defined as math and science or math and science scores, and also language to a certain extent in particular reading. So the exact fields that international learning assessments such as PISA measure, and in that sense, we can also be more specific about the type of economic model embedded in this common understanding. Specifically, it is one that envisions an economy growing as a result of technological progress. That is, the more technological innovation and the accumulation of knowledge, the higher economic growth rates will be in the future.

Will Brehm:  4:02
And what sort of evidence exists, like do researchers have data, empirical data that shows that this relationship is correct, that higher test scores will equate to higher GDP in the future?

Jeremy Rappleye:  4:19
Yes. So in particular, in the last, let’s say, 10 years, the empirical research base for these claims has become very strong in some circles. Now, try to be specific here, the evidence for this common understanding in its current form, I believe, comes from, primarily from two researchers: one is Eric Hanushek at Stanford University and Ludger Woessmann. I apologize, I probably don’t pronounce the name right, based at Munich University. And I think Eric Hanushek appeared on FreshEd quite recently, if I’m not mistaken. In any case, their work constructs roughly a 40 year history of test scores, and matches that with 40 years of economic growth worldwide. So roughly from the 1960s to the year 2000. And when they say worldwide, they actually mean about 60 countries globally, mostly the high income countries that have participated in international assessments, international achievement tests consistently over that period. So to be more specific, their 40 year history of test scores combines data from two international comparative tests: the IEA-SIMS and TIMSS studies and the OECD’s recent PISA studies. So for GDP, they use a standard Penn World Table data set and listeners who are interested can find kind of full details of this in our paper. But I think the point here is that when Hanushek and Woessmann look at the longitudinal relationship between test scores and GDP growth, they find a very strong correlation. That means that across 60 countries, the higher test score outcomes were, the higher GDP growth was, and I think Hikaro might talk about this in more detail, the difference, particularly between the idea of association and causality.

But the point I want to make here is that it’s been so strong, these empirical claims have been so strong, that’s given a lot of momentum to the idea that there’s this strong empirical basis for the linkage between test scores and GDP. And I think that the work of Hanushek and Woessmann is spelled out in many places, as maybe I’ll discuss later in the interview. But the most comprehensive treatment is found in a book entitled “The Knowledge Capital of Nations – Education and the Economics of Growth”, which was published in the year 2015.

Will Brehm:  6:43
So you said that there’s a strong correlation, but is this the relationship between test scores and GDP causal? And I mean, maybe this is a little getting into some of the more technical statistical language here might be useful, to try and understand this claim.

Jeremy Rappleye:  7:02
Yes. So it’s a very good point. And it’s very important to understand the difference between an association or correlation and causality, I think we probably are betters to wait for Hikaro’s discussion of this. But let me kind of lead into that by giving you two quotes where Hanushek and Woessmann really make the claim that the relationship is causal, not just the correlation. So the first quote and this is this kind of crystallizes or kind of encapsulates the whole findings from their body of work, and they say, quote, “with respect to magnitude, one standard deviation in test scores measured at the OECD student level is associated with an average annual growth rate in GDP per capita, two percentage points higher over the 40 years that we observed.” Now, in that quote, they use the word association, as many of the listeners will have heard. But elsewhere, they talk and talk repeatedly about causality. So here’s the second quote, they say, “our earlier research shows the causal relationship between a nation skills its economic capital, and its long run growth rate, making it possible to estimate how education policies affect each nation’s expected economic performance.” So in simple terms, if you can boost test scores, you will achieve higher GDP growth. And this certainty comes out of the idea that the relationship is indeed causal.

Will Brehm:  8:38
That level of certainty, obviously, must impact education policymakers, right to know that if you increase scores as measured on PISA or TIMSS, you will achieve greater economic growth. I mean, it seems like it makes the lives of policymakers a lot easier.

Jeremy Rappleye:  8:55
Absolutely Will, we believe that the attraction, both the attraction of this claim, and the impact of this claim is growing. And through these types of studies, policymakers who previously had to deal with a very complex equation around education are led to believe that the data shows that an aggressive reform policy that increases test scores will, say, 20 or 30 years in the future, lead to major, quite major economic gains. And if I can give you just another quote, and I apologize for the quotes, but I don’t want you to think I’m misphrasing or summarizing the work of Eric Hanushek and Woessmann, but this quote that of their shows the types of kind of spectacular education gains or economic gains that policies can expect to achieve if they implement this kind of policies directed towards raising test scores. So here, I quote, “for lower middle income countries, future gains would be 13 times current GDP and an average out to a 28% higher GDP over the next 80 years. And for upper middle income countries, it would average out to a 16% higher GDP” unquote. So now, Will, if you are a policymaker, you wouldn’t want to forfeit these games, would you? So this research becomes really a motivation for policymakers putting a much greater emphasis on not just math and science, but on cognitive test scores across the board.

But there’s a fascinating bit here, I want to highlight and maybe we want to unpack it later on in the interview. But you might expect that this kind of narrowing the focus of education around test scores would create a lot of resistance. But actually, the GDP gains of increasing test scores that Hanushek and Woessmann project is actually so great that it is projected to pay for everything in education. So it’s not really a choice between alternatives. But instead of a sure-win policy versus kind of more of the same policy, uncertainty, ambiguity, complexity that we’ve seen in the past.

And sorry, this is a long answer, Will. But I would just really want to emphasize, if we talk about how these academic research claims are finding their way into policy or impacting policy, we have to talk about two organizations that have really latched onto these views, and are advocating them strongly to policymakers worldwide. And the first is the World Bank who hired Hanushek and Woessmann to connect their academic findings to policymaking for low income countries. And this report was published by the World Bank as education quality and economic growth as the title “Education Quality and Economic Growth” was published in 2007. And the second organization that has been really at the forefront here is the OECD, they also hired Hanushek and Woessmann to share their findings and discuss the policy implications. And this report was entitled, “Universal Basic Skills: What Countries Stand to Gain” and that was published in 2015. So maybe towards the end of the interview, after we discuss our study, we can return to discuss how these organizations are really central to making that empirical work into concrete policy recommendations.

Will Brehm:  12:13
So what sort of problems do you find with Hanushek and Woessmann analysis of the relationship between test scores and GDP?

Hikaru Komatsu:  12:23
Okay, the problem we found is temporal mismatch that is Professor Hanushek used an inappropriate period for economic growth. That is Professor Hanushek compare test scores recorded during 1960 to 2000 with economic growth for the same period. But this is a little bit strange. Why, because it takes at least several decades for students to become adults and occupy a major portion of workforce. So from our perspective, test scores for given period should be compared with economic growth in subsequent periods. This is the problem we found.

Will Brehm:  13:17
So for instance, it would be like the test scores from 1960 should be connected to the economic growth rate of say, the 1970s there needs to be some sort of gap between the two, is that correct?

Hikaru Komatsu:  13:31
That’s correct.

Will Brehm:  13:31
Okay. So then in your study, I mean, did you do this and what did you find?

Hikaru Komatsu:  13:36
We did this, our study is very simple. We compare test scores for 1960 to 2000, which is exactly the data used by Professor Hanushek. We compare this data with economic growth in subsequent periods such as 1980 to 2000 or 1990 to 2010 or something like that. And we found that the relationship between test scores and economic growth were much much weaker than that reported by Professor Hanushek. Probably audience would see figure in the web, in the website of FreshEd, and there would be two figures, left one is the original one reported by Professor Hanushek. And there is a strong relationship between economic growth and test scores. While the right one is that we found and the relationship is very unclear. So let me explain how we that relationship is when test score for 1960 to 2000 was compared with economic growth. For 1995 to 2014, only 10% of the variation in economic growth among countries was explained by the variation in test scores. That is, the remaining 90% of the variation in economic growth should be responsible for other factors. This means that it is totally unreasonable to use test scores as the only factor to predict future economic growth. And this is what Professor Hanushek did in his study and policy recommendations.

Will Brehm:  15:40
So in your study, you found that 10% of the variation of GDP can be explained by the variation of test scores. What percentage did Hanushek and Woessmann’s study uncover?

Hikaru Komatsu:  15:53
Probably their percentage was around 70 and we try to replicate Professor Hanushek’s finding, in our case, the percentage was 57 or so and the difference between 57, 70 would be caused by the difference in the version of the data we used. In order to extend that time period, we used an updated version of that data, that data set is exactly the same, but the difference is only the version.

Will Brehm:  16:28
So a difference between 50% and 70% is pretty minimal. But the difference between 10% and 70% is enough to question the basically the conclusions that are drawn from that data.

Hikaru Komatsu:  16:42
Yeah, right. If that relationship originally reported by Professor Hanushek is causal, we should have found that comparably strong relationship between test scores for a given period and economic growth for subsequence periods. But we found very weak relationship so it suggests that that relationship originally reported by Professor Hanushek does not always represent the causal relationship. This is our point.

Will Brehm:  17:17
It seems like this is a very profound point that could be rather earth shattering for many people’s assumptions about education and its value for economic growth.

Jeremy Rappleye:  17:31
Thanks, Will, I’d like to fill in a little bit pick up on what Komatsu sensei was arguing there. One of the important points to understand about this 70% of the variation is explained by test scores, the strength of that correlation leads to very strong policy recommendations. So, I’m going to try to unpack a little bit of what I said earlier, because I think it’s an important point, I’ll try to do it academically first, and then I will try to give a simple version that will be a lot easier for listeners to understand.

But basically, if you have a correlation causality link that strongly then Hanushek and Woessmann are claiming that you can first increase your test scores, and it will produce so much excessive growth in the future, that you can redirect that excessive growth back into all other types of educational goods that you need. So in terms of equity, in terms of inclusiveness, you could even redirect that much extra money into healthcare, to sustainability goals, all of these things. So as we both know, these are two sides of the camp is education for economic growth, or is it for equities, is it for inclusiveness, is it personal development. These are the types of debates that have always been with education as an academic study, but he’s able to transcend, they are able to transcend that debate based on the strong causal claims, though, just to fill that in academically. So the claim is that if 3.5% of GDP is spent for education, this is from the World Bank report in 2007. But if over 20 or 30 years, you could increase your test scores by point five standard deviation, it would lead to 5% higher GDP on average, and quote, “this gross dividend would more than cover all the primary and secondary schools spending.” What that means is if you focus on raising cognitive levels, test scores, you could get enough growth that you would ultimately get more money for education for whatever types of educational goals you want to pursue. In the 2015 OECD report Hanushek and Woessmann write that quote “the economic benefit of cognitive gains, carries tremendous potential as a way to address issues of poverty and limited healthcare and to foster new technologies needed to improve the sustainability and inclusiveness of growth.” So as I mentioned before, instead of a trade off between growth related policies and equity, the Hanushek’s results are so strong that they suggest that first raising test scores will eventually produce enough extra gain to pay for everything. So this really relieves them of the need to engage in the kinds of debates over priorities that have taken place for as long as education policy has been around.

Now, if that sounds academic, I apologize. Let me try to put it in more concrete terms to make it easier to understand. Sure. So if the United States based on the PISA 2000 scores could have a 20 or 30 year reform plan that would eventually lead them to achieve the level of Finland or Korea’s PISA scores in 2006. Hanushek claims that, Hanushek and Woessmann claims that GDP, United States’ GDP will be 5% bigger. Now Hanushek really spotlights that in 1989, the governors of the United States came together with then president George Bush, and they promised by the year 2000 to make America number one in the world in math and science. So at that time, it would have been a 50 point gain. And so Hanushek argues in a different work but produced by Brookings called “Endangering Prosperity”, that if the US would have stayed the course in 1989, and actually achieve the goals rather than getting distracted, its GDP would be 4.5% greater today. And that would allow us to solve all of our distributional, our, I’m American, apologies our distributional or equity issues that have constantly plagued American education. And even in more concrete terms Hanushek is based on that strong causality. He’s saying that the gains would actually equal and I quote, “20% higher paychecks for the average American worker over the entire 21st century.”

Will Brehm:  22:02
So he’s reading the future with that relationship that he assumes he can read the future and basically says that focus on test scores first and worry about everything else later, because we’re going to increase so much GDP that will be able to pay for everything that education needs. That’s kind of that policy gist.

Jeremy Rappleye:  22:25
That’s absolutely right, Will, and he made this calculation for the United States, as you can imagine, he’s based in the United States. But if you look at the OECD report, in 2015, they actually make the same calculations for all countries worldwide. So we spotlight that in our full paper in the introduction, just picking up the case of Ghana, because OECD really picked up the case of Ghana and say, you would have this huge economic gain if you could just stay the course on raising test scores.

Will Brehm:  22:54
So these are future predictions or projections. Has there ever been like a real life example of like a bit working the way Hanushek and Woessmann theorize?

Jeremy Rappleye:  23:07
Well, I believe that they would probably argue that the piece of data itself shows that it works. So of course, you have up and down fluctuations of individual countries, but I think they would have a hard time showing a particular country or giving you a case of a particular country who enacted reforms and then achieved higher GDP growth. It’s all abstracted to the level of correlation and causality rather than brought back into kind of concrete terms of particular countries.

Will Brehm:  23:44
And your analysis obviously shows that those future projections are incorrect, or wouldn’t necessarily work out the way Hanushek and Woessmann claim. You know, how do we begin to theorize that this connection between test scores and GDP, like what sort of implications does your study have on education policymakers?

Hikaru Komatsu:  24:09
In my opinion, or according to the data, it is okay to say that improving test score both lead to higher economic growth on average, but actually test scores are only one factor as we found, as we said, only 10% of the variation in economic growth was explained by the variation in test scores. So in that sense, educational test scores are only one factor affecting economic growth. And as we see there’s a huge variation in fiscal capital, land or enterprise between countries, and those should affect economic growth. So education is only one of those factors. This is, I think, reasonable understanding of the relationship between economic growth education and then affect us.

Will Brehm:  25:14
So in a sense, we recognize that education plays some role in future economic growth. But there are other things that also affect future economic growth. And we shouldn’t lose sight of them either.

Hikaru Komatsu:  25:25
You’re right. So that problem Professor Hanushek had is that he believed or assumed that it is the sole factor and he uses only test scores to predict future economic growth. But the route is not so simple. This is our point.

Will Brehm:  25:45
And it seems like it’s a simple point you’re making. But like I said, I think it’s quite profound, because it really upsets what countries are pursuing in their educational goals. I mean, it challenges the rise of PISA, I mean, are all of these countries that are trying to join PISA? Is this actually what they should be doing, right? I mean, for me, the policy implications become so much more difficult, and the confidence of certain policy prescriptions kind of goes out the door.

Jeremy Rappleye:  26:16
Yeah, Will. We would wholeheartedly agree with that summary of kind of the implications of our study, it is a simple idea. And it’s pretty obvious even to, let’s say, masters level students, that education is not that complex. But one of the problems is all of this big data creates all the potential for kind of this dog fight using data up at the higher stratosphere. And people can’t really touch that. So as long as you are up there fighting it out, then it seems to be pretty solid. And I think that to be very honest, actually, neither Hikaro or I really like doing this work that much. Right. To be very honest, we don’t really enjoy this work. We’d rather be thinking about big ideas and complex ideas and doing those types of things.

But the problem is that it blocks the view, the simple views of education block the complexity or the depth of what we should be seeing in these ecologies of education or these types of things. Now, that was a very kind of big picture response. But if we have time, I’d like to talk more specifically about the specific policy recommendations and what are the implications of our studies. So we believe that our research findings have recommendations but these are not really recommendations in the usual sense of identifying a best practice or a magic bullet or as a magical potion that will improve education worldwide. Instead, the implications of our research is what we might call negative policy recommendations. And by that, I mean it helps policymakers realize what they should not do. Specifically, it tells policymakers that they should not be seduced by promises that focusing on raising test scores, and purely test scores in areas such as science technology, math is a surefire policy that will raise GDP growth rates, and it tells them not to believe kind of advisors who would come in and tell them that raising test scores alone will lead to enough GDP, future growth to quote “and the financial and distributional problems of education,” unquote. Now I want to even be more specific about this, more concrete, two points. As most listeners will know, one of the biggest educational policy trends over the last two decades has been PISA. And there are currently plans to extend PISA to low income countries through the PISA for development exercise. I think that by 2030, the OECD and the World Bank plan to have PISA in every country worldwide, despite a whole range of critiques from academics, from practitioners, from just the normal belief that education is more complex than that.

The central rationale for the expansion of PISA testing is that it will lead to higher GDP growth. In effect, countries are being persuaded to sign up to PISA, because of the types of claims that we reviewed throughout this interview. But our research shows that this will not happen. Some of my favorite research in recent years have come from scholars around Paul Morris, at the Institute of Education in London, working with young scholars, Euan Auld, Yun You or Bob Adamson in Hong Kong, showing how PISA tests are really driven much more by a range of private companies such as Pearson, ETS, and so on. And scholars like Stephen Ball, Bob Lingard, and Sam Seller also write some great stuff along these lines. And another important line of research comes from folks like Radhika Gorur who writes about the dangers of standardization and how it might ultimately destroy the diversity necessary for future adaptation and innovation in education. And so again, we hope that our research removes the belief that research that, academic research somehow proves the PISA and GDP linkage, and that’s let’s policymakers see all of these warnings much more clearly. And if you let me quickly go on to the second dimension of really concrete, what’s happening now is that, as many listeners will also know, is that the world is, the world of education, where the development more generally is talking about the post 2015 goals. Basically, what comes after the Millennium Development Goals that we’re going in the 1990s. And in terms of education, the Sustainable Development Goal Four is the one that deals with education, it sets global targets for improving learning by 2030. And one of the disappointing things we have noticed in these discussions is that it seems the discussion seem to be imitating the OECD and World Bank that is, we see UNESCO and other agencies referring explicitly to the Hanushek and Woessmann studies to argue for why PISA-style assessments are the best way to achieve Sustainable Development Goal number four. And so compared to discussions around EFA, in the early 1990s, the discussion around the SDG number four seems to be taking this knowledge capital claim as truth as academic truth.

And we worried that this will put the whole world on a course for implementing PISA-style tests. And, of course, the change in curriculum that comes in its wake. I don’t want to be, you know, kind of, to overstate this too much. But we worried that there’s really no evidence for that and that these will be very costly exercises that will ultimately do very little to improve education. So, again, we hope our study will give policymakers the kind of academic research basis for resisting the advances made by the OECD and World Bank.

Will Brehm:  31:59
Have you experienced any pushback about some of the findings because I mean, obviously, you’re challenging some of the wisdom that’s taken for granted by the World Bank, by the OECD, by private companies, like you said, Pearson and ETS, the Educational Testing Service, which produces a whole bunch of tests. So I mean, one would imagine that your negative recommendations that come out of your findings may ultimately create a pushback from those who interests are being challenged.

Jeremy Rappleye:  32:30
Yeah, I guess we would love to have a pushback, because pushback implies an explicit engagement. Again, our findings are not new, that there’s no link between educational outcomes and GDP growth. These claims are very, this idea is actually very old. But what happens is that with each kind of wave of data that comes out that kind of dog fight that I was talking about, kind of gets it goes from maybe kids throwing rocks at each other from different trees up to hot air balloons up to airplanes up to jet planes, and it just keeps going up. There’s no real engagement with the ground level realities that would refute all of this. So if we were to get pushback, we would welcome it. We would love to see the evidence because our mind is not made up. It’s quite possible. I mean, there are no certainties, and it would be wonderful to see a more elaborate discussion around these ideas. So our results are conclusive. But in the sense of with that data set, it conclusively disproves a particular hypothesis or claim, but they’re not conclusive in the terms of a terminus of learning. There’s always more that we can understand about the relation the complex relationship between society, economics, culture and these types of things. So we would really welcome that as a way to elaborate.

Will Brehm:  34:00
Well, I really hope that you can kind of open up this door for a much deeper engagement to get to some of those big questions that you obviously have in mind, but Hikaro Komatsu and Jeremy Rappleye, thank you so much for joining Fresh Ed. It was really a pleasure to talk today.

Hikaru Komatsu:  34:15
Thanks for having us. I really enjoyed it.

Jeremy Rappleye:  34:18
Thank you very much, Will. Keep up the great work. We all appreciate the hard work you’re doing on behalf of educational researchers and educational practitioners worldwide.

Will Brehm 2:12
Hikaru Komatsu和Jeremy Rappleye,你们好,欢迎做客FreshEd!

Hikaru Komatsu 2:16

Jeremy Rappleye 2:18

Will Brehm 2:30

Jeremy Rappleye 2:59

Will Brehm 4:02

Jeremy Rappleye 4:19
是的,尤其在过去10年左右的时间里,这一观点在某些圈子里得到了很强的实证研究支持。展开来说,很多关于目前这个共识的证据主要都是源自于两位研究者,分别是斯坦福大学的埃里克·哈努谢克(Eric Hanushek)教授和慕尼黑大学的卢德格尔·沃斯曼因(Ludger Woessmann)教授。如果我没记错的话,FreshEd之前有一期节目就请到过哈努谢克教授。话说回来,他们两人研究了1960至2000年间,差不多40年的考试成绩,并与同时期世界范围内的经济发展情况相对照。这里所谓的世界范围是指全球近60个国家,绝大多数是在上述时期参加过国际评估和国际成果测试的高收入国家。更具体地来说,他们结合了两项国际比较测试的数据,即国际教育成就评价协会(IEA)的第二次国际数学研究(SIMS)和国际数学与科学趋势研究(TIMSS),以及经济合作与发展组织(OECD)的PISA;GDP采用的是佩恩表(Penn World Table)的标准数据库,感兴趣的读者可以在我们的论文里找到所有的详细数据。哈努谢克和沃斯曼因研究了考试成绩和GDP增长之间的纵向关系,发现两者有很强的相关性。也就是说,在这60个国家里,谁的测试得分越高,谁的GDP增长就越高。这一点过会儿Komatsu教授会详细讨论,尤其是关于相关性和因果的概念。

Will Brehm 6:43

Jeremy Rappleye 7:02
你问到点子上了!关联性,或者说相关性,和因果性是不一样的。理解这一点很关键。我想最好是一会儿由Komatsu教授来具体解释。在那之前,我先引用两处哈努谢克和沃斯曼因的原话,他们提到成绩和GDP之间有因果关系,而不仅仅是有相关性。第一处是在概述研究的主要发现时,他们写到:“对于影响的程度,OECD 学生水平测试成绩的一个标准差与GDP的平均年增长率有关,在我们观察到的40年间,这一数字高出了两个百分点。”大家可能也都听到了,他们在这里用的词是“关系到”。但此外的其他地方,他们反复谈论的却是“因果关系”。比如我要引用的第二处,他们写到:“此前我们的研究显示,一个国家的技能(即它的经济资本)与长期增长率之间存在因果关系,因此能够推测教育政策是如何影响国家的预期经济效益。”简单来说就是,只要能提高考试成绩,就能实现GDP增长。也只有因果关系才能得出这么肯定的结论。

Will Brehm 8:38

Jeremy Rappleye 8:55
抱歉说了这么多,我还要强调最后一点,是关于这些学术研究的主张如何进入到政策领域的。有两个组织功不可没,一个是世界银行(World Bank),另一个是OECD。他们牢牢抓住这些研究成果,并向世界各国的政策制定者积极推广。前者聘请了哈努谢克和沃斯曼因,要求他们研究成果运用到低收入国家的政策制定中去。2007年世界银行发表了题为《教育质量在经济增长中的作用》的报告。后者同样也聘请了哈努谢克和沃斯曼因来分享研究成果、讨论政策意义,并于2015年发布了《普及基本技能:国家能获得什么》的报告。在谈完我们的研究之后,如果访谈结束前还有时间的话,可以回过头来再讨论一下这些组织在推动实证研究进入具体政策建议中的重要作用。

Will Brehm 12:13

Hikaru Komatsu 12:23

Will Brehm 13:17

Hikaru Komatsu 13:31

Will Brehm 13:31

Hikaru Komatsu 13:36

Will Brehm 15:40

Hikaru Komatsu 15:53

Will Brehm 16:28

Hikaru Komatsu 16:42

Will Brehm 17:17

Jeremy Rappleye 17:31
这听上去可能比较学术,不好意思。为方便理解,我举个具体例子吧。比如美国,哈努谢克和沃斯曼因声称,基于其在2000年PISA测试中的成绩,如果有一个20年或30年的改革计划使其提高到2006年PISA测试中的芬兰或韩国的水平,那么美国的GDP会有5%的增长。哈努谢克和沃斯曼因他们还指出,早在1989年,时任美国总统的乔治·布什(George Bush)和各州州长曾承诺到2000年要让美国学生的数学和科学成绩成为世界第一,在那时候,也就是提高50分。他在由布鲁金斯学会(Brookings Institution)出版的另一本题为《濒危的繁荣》的书中称,如果美国在1989年坚持这一政策,切实实现目标而没有分心的话,那么美国的GDP应该比现在多4.5%。那么,这样就能解决所有困扰我们教育系统的分配和公平的问题。抱歉,因为我是美国人,所以用“我们”一词。基于那种超强的因果关系,哈努谢克通过具体的数据表示,(成绩提高)带来的效益会使“在整个21世纪,美国工人的平均收入提高20%。”

Will Brehm 22:02

Jeremy Rappleye 22:25

Will Brehm 22:54

Jeremy Rappleye 23:07

Will Brehm 23:44

Hikaru Komatsu 24:09

Will Brehm 25:14

Hikaru Komatsu 25:25

Will Brehm 25:45

Jeremy Rappleye 26:16
然而,我们的研究恰恰表明那一观点所期待的结果未必会发生。近年来也有其他一些我很喜欢的研究,比如伦敦大学学院教育学院的莫礼时(Paul Morris),他和尤安·奥尔德(Euan Auld)、游韵,以及香港的鲍勃·亚当森(Bob Adamson)等中、青年学者的研究认为,PISA其实更多是由培生(Pearson)、美国教育考试服务中心(ETS)等私企所推动的;史蒂芬·鲍尔(Stephen Ball)、鲍勃·林嘉德(Bob Lingard)和山姆·塞勒(Sam Sellar)等学者在诸多论文里也提出了类似的观点。此外,还有一些学者如拉迪卡·哥尔(Radhika Gorur),他们的研究显示出标准化的危害,以及它将如何最终破坏未来教育变革和创新所需的多样性。这些学术研究都表明PISA和GDP之间并无多少联系。希望我们的研究能再次证明这一点,并帮助政策制定者更清楚地看到学界的这些示警。

Will Brehm 31:59

Jeremy Rappleye 32:30

Will Brehm 34:00
我真的希望你们能打开这扇门,探触到你们脑海中已经形成的那些更深刻更复杂的问题。Hikaru Komatsu和Jeremy Rappleye,很高兴你们能来做客FreshEd,再次感谢你们的分享!

Hikaru Komatsu 34:15

Jeremy Rappleye 34:18

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Will Brehm:  2:12
HikaruKomatsu et Jeremy Rappleye, bienvenue à FreshEd.

Hikaru Komatsu:  2:16
Merci de nous recevoir.

Jeremy Rappleye:  2:18
Merci, Will. Avant de commencer, laissez-moi vous dire à quel point j’apprécie votre spectacle. Et j’ai tellement appris de lui. Et je vous félicite vraiment d’avoir créé cet espace et de faire des spectacles de si grande envergure, semaine après semaine. Merci beaucoup de nous recevoir.

Will Brehm:  2:30
Merci pour ces aimables propos. Vous avez beaucoup travaillé ces derniers temps pour réfuter certaines hypothèses banales entre les résultats des tests et le PIB – produit intérieur brut. Quelle est la relation normale que de nombreux chercheurs entretiennent entre les résultats des tests ? Que savent les étudiants et le produit intérieur brut ? Quelle est la croissance d’un pays ou quelle est sa valeur ?

Jeremy Rappleye:  2:59
Oui, merci, Will. Je répondrai à la première question ici, je dirais que la compréhension commune de la relation entre les résultats des tests et le projet intérieur brut est que plus vos résultats aux tests sont élevés, plus votre PIB futur est important. C’est l’affirmation la plus simple qui soit et si nous essayons d’être plus précis, il est entendu que plus les gens obtiennent des résultats aux tests dans une population particulière dans des domaines qui sont, disons, pertinents pour la croissance économique, plus le PIB sera élevé à l’avenir. Ainsi, les domaines pertinents ici sont plus susceptibles d’être définis comme les mathématiques et les sciences ou les scores en mathématiques et en sciences, ainsi que la langue dans une certaine mesure, en particulier la lecture. Les domaines exacts que les évaluations internationales de l’apprentissage telles que PISA mesurent, et dans ce sens, nous pouvons également être plus précis sur le type de modèle économique qui s’inscrit dans cette compréhension commune. Plus précisément, il s’agit d’un modèle qui envisage une économie en croissance grâce au progrès technologique. En d’autres termes, plus l’innovation technologique et l’accumulation de connaissances seront nombreuses, plus les taux de croissance économique seront élevés à l’avenir.

Will Brehm:  4:02
Et quel type de preuve existe-t-il, comme les chercheurs disposent-ils de données, de données empiriques qui montrent que cette relation est correcte, que des résultats plus élevés aux tests seront synonymes d’un PIB plus élevé à l’avenir ?

Jeremy Rappleye:  4:19
Oui. Donc, au cours des dix dernières années, par exemple, la base de recherche empirique pour ces affirmations est devenue très forte dans certains milieux. Maintenant, tentez d’être précis, les preuves de cette compréhension commune sous sa forme actuelle, je crois, proviennent principalement de deux chercheurs : l’un est Eric Hanushek de l’université de Stanford et l’autre Ludger Woessmann. Je m’excuse, je ne prononce probablement pas correctement le nom, basé à l’université de Munich. Et je pense qu’Eric Hanushek est apparu sur FreshEd tout récemment, si je ne me trompe pas. Quoi qu’il en soit, leur travail retrace environ 40 ans d’histoire des résultats aux tests, ce qui correspond à 40 ans de croissance économique mondiale. Donc à peu près des années 1960 à l’an 2000. Et lorsqu’ils disent mondial, ils font en fait référence à environ 60 pays dans le monde, principalement les pays à revenu élevé qui ont participé à des évaluations internationales, des tests de performance internationaux de façon constante au cours de cette période. Pour être plus précis, l’historique des résultats de ces tests sur 40 ans regroupe des données provenant de deux tests comparatifs internationaux : les études IEA-SIMS et TIMSS et les récentes études PISA de l’OCDE. Ainsi, pour le PIB, ils utilisent un ensemble de données standard de la Penn World Table et les auditeurs intéressés peuvent trouver des détails complets à ce sujet dans notre document. Mais je pense que le point ici est que lorsque Hanushek et Woessmann examinent la relation longitudinale entre les résultats des tests et la croissance du PIB, ils trouvent une très forte corrélation. Cela signifie que dans 60 pays, plus les résultats aux tests sont élevés, plus la croissance du PIB est élevée, et je pense que Hikarumight en parle plus en détail, la différence, en particulier entre l’idée d’association et de causalité.

Mais ce que je veux dire ici, c’est que ces affirmations empiriques sont si fortes, qu’elles ont donné beaucoup d’élan à l’idée qu’il existe cette base empirique solide pour le lien entre les résultats des tests et le PIB. Et je pense que le travail de Hanushek et de Woessmann est bien expliqué à de nombreux endroits, comme je l’expliquerai peut-être plus tard dans l’interview. Mais le traitement le plus exhaustif se trouve dans un livre intitulé “The Knowledge Capital of Nations – Education and the Economics of Growth”, qui a été publié en 2015.

Will Brehm:  6:43
Vous avez donc indiqué qu’il y a une forte corrélation, mais est-ce que la relation entre les résultats des tests et le PIB est causale ? Et je veux dire, peut-être que c’est un peu entrer dans le langage statistique plus technique qui pourrait être utile ici, pour essayer de comprendre cette affirmation.

Jeremy Rappleye:  7:02
Oui, c’est donc un point très pertinent. Et il est essentiel de comprendre la différence entre une association ou une corrélation et une causalité, je trouve que nous sommes probablement mieux placés pour attendre la discussion d’Hikaro à ce sujet. Mais laissez-moi vous guider en vous donnant deux citations où Hanushek et Woessmann affirment que la relation est causale, et pas seulement la corrélation. La première citation, qui est en quelque sorte une synthèse des résultats de leurs travaux, dit, je cite, “en ce qui concerne l’ampleur, un écart-type des résultats aux tests mesurés au niveau des étudiants de l’OCDE est associé à un taux de croissance annuel moyen du PIB par habitant, supérieur de deux points de pourcentage sur les 40 ans que nous avons observés”. Maintenant, dans cette citation, ils utilisent le mot association, comme beaucoup d’auditeurs l’auront entendu. Mais ailleurs, ils parlent et évoquent sans cesse la causalité. Voici donc la deuxième citation, ils disent : “nos recherches antérieures démontrent la relation de causalité entre les compétences d’une nation son capital économique, et son taux de croissance à long terme, ce qui permet d’estimer comment les politiques d’éducation affectent la performance économique attendue de chaque nation”. Donc, pour faire simple, si vous pouvez améliorer les résultats aux tests, vous obtiendrez une croissance du PIB plus élevée. Et cette certitude découle de l’idée que la relation est effectivement causale.

Will Brehm:  8:38
Ce niveau de certitude doit évidemment avoir un impact sur les décideurs politiques en matière d’éducation, qui ont le droit de savoir que si vous augmentez les scores mesurés par PISA ou TIMSS, vous obtiendrez une plus grande croissance économique. Il semble que cela facilite grandement la vie des décideurs politiques.

Jeremy Rappleye:  8:55
Tout à fait Will, nous pensons que l’attrait, à la fois l’attrait de cette revendication, et l’impact de cette revendication sont en croissance. Et grâce à ce type d’études, les décideurs politiques qui devaient auparavant faire face à une équation très complexe autour de l’éducation sont amenés à croire que les données révèlent qu’une politique de réforme dynamique qui accroît les résultats aux tests conduira, disons, dans 20 ou 30 ans, à des gains économiques importants, assez importants. Et si je peux vous donner juste une autre citation, et je m’excuse pour les citations, je ne veux pas que vous pensiez que j’ai mal formulé ou résumé le travail d’Eric Hanushek et de Woessmann, mais cette citation, celle de leur auteur, illustre le type de bénéfices spectaculaires en matière d’éducation ou de gains économiques que les politiques peuvent espérer obtenir si elles mettent en œuvre ce type de politiques visant à augmenter les résultats aux tests. Ainsi, je cite : “Pour les pays à revenu moyen inférieur, les gains futurs seraient de 13 fois le PIB actuel et une moyenne de 28 % de PIB plus élevée au cours des 80 prochaines années. Et pour les pays à revenu moyen supérieur, la moyenne serait de 16 % de PIB en plus”. Alors maintenant, Will, si vous êtes un décideur politique, vous ne voudriez pas renoncer à ces jeux, n’est-ce pas ? Cette recherche devient donc une véritable motivation pour les décideurs politiques, qui mettent davantage l’accent non seulement sur les mathématiques et les sciences, mais aussi sur les résultats des tests cognitifs dans tous les domaines.

Mais il existe une partie fascinante que je veux souligner et que nous voulons peut-être décortiquer plus tard dans l’interview. Mais on peut s’attendre à ce que ce genre de rétrécissement du champ de l’éducation autour des résultats des tests suscite beaucoup de réticences. Mais en réalité, les gains de PIB résultant de l’augmentation des résultats aux tests, que Hanushek et Woessmann projettent, sont si importants qu’ils devraient permettre de financer tout ce qui concerne l’éducation. Il ne s’agit donc pas vraiment de choisir entre plusieurs alternatives. Mais au lieu d’une politique gagnante à coup sûr contre une politique plus ou moins identique, l’incertitude, l’ambiguïté, la complexité que nous avons vues par le passé.

Et je suis désolé, c’est une longue réponse, Will. Mais je tiens à insister sur le fait que si nous évoquons la manière dont ces affirmations de la recherche universitaire se frayent un chemin jusqu’à la politique ou ont un impact sur la politique, nous devons parler de deux organisations qui se sont vraiment appropriées ces points de vue et les défendent avec force auprès des décideurs politiques du monde entier. La première est la Banque mondiale, qui a recruté Hanushek et Woessmann pour faire le lien entre les résultats de leurs recherches universitaires et l’élaboration de politiques pour les pays à faible revenu. Et ce rapport a été publié par la Banque mondiale sous le titre “Qualité de l’éducation et croissance économique” en 2007. La deuxième organisation qui a vraiment été à l’avant-garde dans ce domaine est l’OCDE, qui a également engagé Hanushek et Woessmann pour partager leurs conclusions et discuter des implications politiques. Et ce rapport était intitulé ” Universal Basic Skills : What Countries Stand to Gain”, qui a été publié en 2015. Donc, peut-être que vers la fin de l’entretien, après avoir discuté de notre étude, nous pourrons revenir sur la façon dont ces organisations sont réellement au centre de la transformation de ce travail empirique en recommandations politiques concrètes.

Will Brehm:  12:13
Quels sont donc les types de problèmes que vous trouvez dans l’analyse de Hanushek et Woessmann sur la relation entre les résultats des tests et le PIB ?

Hikaru Komatsu:  12:23
D’accord, le problème rencontré est le déphasage temporel, c’est-à-dire que le professeur Hanushek a utilisé une période inappropriée pour la croissance économique. C’est-à-dire que le professeur Hanushek compare les résultats des tests enregistrés entre 1960 et 2000 avec la croissance économique pour la même période. Mais c’est un peu étrange. Pourquoi, parce qu’il faut au moins plusieurs décennies pour que les étudiants deviennent adultes et occupent une grande partie de la population active. Donc, de notre point de vue, les résultats des tests pour une période donnée devraient être comparés à la croissance économique des périodes suivantes. C’est le problème que nous avons rencontré.

Will Brehm:  13:17
Ainsi, par exemple, les résultats des tests de 1960 devraient être liés au taux de croissance économique, par exemple, dans les années 1970, il doit y avoir une sorte d’écart entre les deux, est-ce exact ?

Hikaru Komatsu:  13:31
C’est tout à fait exact.

Will Brehm:  13:31
D’accord. Alors, dans votre étude, je veux dire, avez-vous fait cela et qu’avez-vous trouvé ?

Hikaru Komatsu:  13:36
Nous l’avons réalisé, notre étude est très simple. Nous comparons les résultats des tests de 1960 à 2000, ce qui correspond exactement aux données utilisées par le professeur Hanushek. Nous mettons ces données en parallèle avec la croissance économique des périodes suivantes, comme 1980 à 2000 ou 1990 à 2010, ou quelque chose comme ça. Et nous avons trouvé que la relation entre les résultats des tests et la croissance économique était beaucoup plus faible que celle rapportée par le professeur Hanushek. Le public verrait probablement un chiffre sur le web, sur le site de FreshEd, et il y aurait deux chiffres, celui de gauche est le chiffre original rapporté par le professeur Hanushek. Et il existe une relation étroite entre la croissance économique et les résultats aux tests. Alors que le chiffre de droite est celui que nous avons trouvé et la relation est très peu claire. Permettez-moi donc d’expliquer comment nous avons établi cette relation lorsque les résultats des tests de 1960 à 2000 ont été comparés à la croissance économique. Pour les années 1995 à 2014, seuls 10 % des variations de la croissance économique entre les pays s’expliquent par la variation des résultats aux tests. Autrement dit, les 90 % restants de la variation de la croissance économique devraient être responsables d’autres facteurs. Cela revient à dire qu’il est totalement déraisonnable d’utiliser les résultats des tests comme seul facteur pour prédire la croissance économique future. Et c’est ce que le professeur Hanushek a fait dans son étude et ses recommandations politiques.

Will Brehm:  15:40
Ainsi, dans votre étude, vous avez constaté que 10 % de la variation du PIB peut s’expliquer par la variation des résultats aux tests. Quel pourcentage l’étude de Hanushek et Woessmann a-t-elle mis en évidence ?

Hikaru Komatsu:  15:53
Leur pourcentage était sans doute d’environ 70 et nous essayons de reproduire la conclusion du professeur Hanushek, dans notre cas, le pourcentage était d’environ 57 et la différence entre 57, 70 serait due à la différence de version des données que nous avons utilisées. Afin de prolonger cette période, nous avons utilisé une version actualisée de ces données, cet ensemble de données est exactement le même, mais la différence n’est que la version.

Will Brehm:  16:28
Une différence entre 50 et 70 % est plutôt minime. Mais la différence entre 10 % et 70 % est suffisante pour remettre en question les conclusions fondamentales qui sont tirées de ces données.

Hikaru Komatsu:  16:42
Oui, en effet. Si cette relation décrite à l’origine par le professeur Hanushek est causale, nous aurions dû trouver cette relation relativement forte entre les résultats des tests pour une période donnée et la croissance économique pour les périodes suivantes. Mais nous avons trouvé une relation très faible, ce qui suggère que la relation rapportée à l’origine par le professeur Hanushek ne représente pas toujours la relation de cause à effet. C’est là où nous voulons en venir.

Will Brehm:  17:17
Il semble que ce soit un point très fondamental qui pourrait être plutôt déconcertant pour les hypothèses de nombreuses personnes sur l’éducation et sa valeur pour la croissance économique.

Jeremy Rappleye:  17:31
Merci, Will, j’aimerais revenir un peu sur ce que Komatsu sensei a évoqué là-bas. Un des points majeurs à comprendre à propos de ces 70 % de variation est expliqué par les résultats des tests, la puissance de cette corrélation conduit à des recommandations politiques très fortes. Donc, je vais essayer de déballer un peu ce que j’ai dit plus tôt, parce que je pense que c’est un point important, je vais essayer de le faire de manière académique d’abord, et ensuite je vais essayer de donner une version simple qui sera beaucoup plus facile à comprendre pour les auditeurs.

Mais fondamentalement, si vous avez un lien de causalité de corrélation aussi fort, alors Hanushek et Woessmann affirment que vous pouvez d’abord accroître vos résultats aux tests, et cela produira une croissance tellement excessive à l’avenir, que vous pouvez réorienter cette croissance excessive vers tous les autres types de biens éducatifs dont vous avez besoin. Ainsi, en termes d’équité, en termes d’inclusion, vous pourriez même réorienter cette somme supplémentaire vers les soins de santé, vers des objectifs de durabilité, toutes ces choses. Comme nous le savons tous les deux, il s’agit là de deux aspects du camp : l’éducation pour la croissance économique, ou bien les actions, l’inclusion, le développement personnel. Ce sont les types de débats qui ont toujours été menés avec l’éducation en tant qu’étude académique, mais il est capable de transcender, ils sont capables de transcender ce débat basé sur les fortes revendications causales, cependant, juste pour remplir cela de manière académique. L’affirmation veut donc que si 3,5 % du PIB est dépensé pour l’éducation, cela provient du rapport de la Banque mondiale de 2007. Mais si, sur 20 ou 30 ans, vous pouviez accroître vos résultats aux tests de cinq points d’écart type, cela entraînerait une hausse de 5 % du PIB en moyenne, et je cite : “ce dividende brut couvrirait largement toutes les dépenses en matière d’écoles primaires et secondaires”. Cela revient à dire que si vous vous concentrez sur l’accroissement des niveaux cognitifs, des résultats aux tests, vous pourriez obtenir une croissance suffisante pour obtenir en fin de compte plus d’argent pour l’éducation, quel que soit le type d’objectifs éducatifs que vous souhaitez poursuivre. Dans le rapport de l’OCDE de 2015, Hanushek et Woessmann écrivent que “les avantages économiques des gains cognitifs offrent un potentiel énorme pour résoudre les problèmes de pauvreté et de soins de santé limités et pour encourager les nouvelles technologies nécessaires pour améliorer la durabilité et l’intégration de la croissance”. Ainsi, comme je l’ai déjà mentionné, au lieu d’un compromis entre les politiques liées à la croissance et l’équité, les résultats du Hanushek sont si probants qu’ils suggèrent qu’une première hausse des résultats aux tests produira finalement suffisamment de gains supplémentaires pour tout payer. Cela les dispense donc vraiment de s’engager dans le genre de débats sur les priorités qui ont lieu depuis que la politique de l’éducation existe.

Maintenant, si cela paraît académique, je m’en excuse. Laissez-moi essayer de le formuler en termes plus concrets pour le rendre plus facile à comprendre. Bien sûr, si les États-Unis se fondaient sur les résultats de PISA 2000, ils pourraient avoir un plan de réforme sur 20 ou 30 ans qui les amènerait à atteindre le niveau des résultats de PISA de la Finlande ou de la Corée en 2006. Hanushek et Woessmann affirment que le PIB, le PIB des États-Unis sera supérieur à 5 %. Hanushek met en avant le fait qu’en 1989, les gouverneurs des États-Unis se sont réunis avec le président George Bush et qu’ils ont promis de faire de l’Amérique le numéro un mondial en mathématiques et en sciences d’ici l’an 2000. À l’époque, cela aurait donc représenté un gain de 50 points. C’est pourquoi Hanushek affirme dans un autre ouvrage, mais produit par Brookings et intitulé “Endangering Prosperity”, que si les États-Unis avaient maintenu le cap en 1989 et avaient réellement atteint les objectifs fixés plutôt que de se laisser distraire, leur PIB serait aujourd’hui supérieur de 4,5 %. Et cela nous permettrait de résoudre tous nos problèmes de distribution, de, je suis américain, d’excuses, de répartition ou d’équité qui ont constamment affligé l’éducation américaine. Et même en termes plus concrets, Hanushek est basé sur cette forte causalité. Il dit que les gains seraient en fait égaux et je cite : “20% de salaires en plus pour le travailleur américain moyen sur l’ensemble du 21ème siècle”.

Will Brehm:  22:02
Ainsi, il lit l’avenir avec cette relation qu’il suppose pouvoir lire l’avenir et dit en gros qu’il faut se focaliser sur les résultats des tests d’abord et se préoccuper de tout le reste ensuite, parce que nous allons tellement augmenter le PIB que nous pourrons payer tout ce dont l’éducation a besoin. C’est en quelque sorte l’essence même de cette politique.

Jeremy Rappleye:  22:25
C’est bien cela, Will, et il a fait ce calcul pour les États-Unis, comme vous pouvez l’imaginer, il est basé aux États-Unis. Mais si vous regardez le rapport de l’OCDE, en 2015, ils font en fait les mêmes calculs pour tous les pays du monde. C’est pourquoi nous mettons l’accent sur ce point dans notre document intégral en introduction, en reprenant le cas du Ghana, parce que l’OCDE a vraiment repris le cas du Ghana et a dit : “Vous auriez cet énorme gain économique si vous pouviez simplement maintenir le cap sur l’amélioration des résultats aux tests.

Will Brehm:  22:54
Il s’agit donc de prévisions ou de projections futures. Y a-t-il jamais eu un exemple concret de la façon dont Hanushek et Woessmann théorisent ?

Jeremy Rappleye:  23:07
Eh bien, je suppose qu’ils pourraient probablement soutenir que l’élément de données lui-même montre que cela fonctionne. Il existe donc bien évidemment des variations à la hausse et à la baisse pour chaque pays, mais je pense qu’il serait difficile de montrer un pays en particulier ou de vous donner le cas d’un pays qui a mis en œuvre des réformes et qui a ensuite enregistré une croissance plus élevée de son PIB. Tout est ramené au niveau de la corrélation et de la causalité plutôt qu’aux termes concrets de pays particuliers.

Will Brehm:  23:44
Votre analyse indique évidemment que ces projections sont incorrectes, ou ne fonctionneraient pas nécessairement comme le prétendent Hanushek et Woessmann. Vous savez, comment pouvons-nous commencer à théoriser que ce lien entre les résultats des tests et le PIB, comme par exemple quel type d’implications votre étude a sur les décideurs politiques de l’éducation ?

Hikaru Komatsu:  24:09
À mon humble avis, ou selon les données, on peut affirmer que l’amélioration des résultats aux tests entraîne une croissance économique plus élevée en moyenne, mais en réalité, les résultats aux tests ne sont qu’un facteur parmi d’autres, car nous avons découvert, comme nous l’avons dit, que seulement 10 % de la variation de la croissance économique s’expliquait par la variation des résultats aux tests. Donc, en ce sens, les résultats des tests éducatifs ne sont qu’un facteur influençant la croissance économique. Et comme nous le voyons, il existe une énorme variation du capital fiscal, des terres ou des entreprises entre les pays, et cela devrait affecter la croissance économique. L’éducation n’est donc qu’un de ces facteurs. C’est, je pense, une compréhension raisonnable de la relation entre la croissance économique, l’éducation et les effets sur nous.

Will Brehm:  25:14
Ainsi, dans un sens, nous reconnaissons que l’éducation joue un rôle dans la croissance économique future. Mais il existe d’autres facteurs qui influent également sur la croissance économique future. Et nous ne devrions pas les perdre de vue non plus.

Hikaru Komatsu:  25:25
Vous avez raison. Le problème du professeur Hanushek est donc qu’il croit ou suppose que c’est le seul facteur et qu’il n’utilise que les résultats des tests pour prédire la croissance économique future. Mais le chemin n’est pas si simple. C’est là où nous voulons en venir.

Will Brehm:  25:45
Et on dirait que c’est un simple point de vue. Mais comme je l’ai dit, je pense que c’est assez sérieux, parce que cela bouleverse vraiment les objectifs éducatifs des pays. Je veux dire que cela remet en question la montée en puissance du PISA, je veux dire, est-ce que tous ces pays qui essaient de rejoindre le PISA ? Est-ce vraiment ce qu’ils devraient faire, n’est-ce pas ? Je veux dire que pour moi, les implications politiques deviennent beaucoup plus difficiles, et la confiance de certaines prescriptions politiques disparaît en quelque sorte.

Jeremy Rappleye:  26:16
En effet, Will. Nous sommes tout à fait d’accord avec ce résumé des implications de notre étude, c’est une idée simple. Et il est assez évident, même pour, disons, des étudiants de niveau master, que l’éducation n’est pas si complexe. Mais l’un des problèmes est que toutes ces grandes données créent un potentiel pour ce genre de combat de chiens en utilisant des données de la haute stratosphère. Et les gens ne peuvent pas vraiment y toucher. Donc, tant que vous êtes là-haut à vous battre, alors cela semble assez solide. Et je pense que pour être très honnête, en fait, ni Hikaruor ni moi n’aimons vraiment faire ce travail à ce point. C’est vrai. Pour être très honnête, nous n’aimons pas vraiment ce travail. Nous préférons penser à de grandes idées et à des idées complexes et faire ce genre de choses.

Mais le problème est que cela limite la vue, les vues simples de l’éducation limitent la complexité ou la profondeur de ce que nous devrions voir dans ces écologies de l’éducation ou ce genre de choses. C’était une sorte de réponse globale. Mais si nous avons le temps, j’aimerais parler plus précisément des recommandations politiques spécifiques et des implications de nos études. Nous pensons donc que les résultats de nos recherches comportent des recommandations, mais il ne s’agit pas vraiment de recommandations au sens habituel du terme, c’est-à-dire l’identification d’une meilleure pratique ou d’une solution miracle ou d’une potion magique qui améliorera l’éducation dans le monde entier. Au contraire, les implications de nos recherches sont ce que l’on pourrait appeler des recommandations politiques négatives. Et par là, je veux dire qu’elles aident les décideurs politiques à réaliser ce qu’ils ne devraient pas faire. Plus précisément, elle leur dit qu’ils ne doivent pas se laisser séduire par des promesses selon lesquelles le fait de se concentrer sur l’augmentation des notes d’examen, et uniquement des notes d’examen dans des domaines tels que la science et la technologie, les mathématiques est une politique infaillible qui augmentera les taux de croissance du PIB, et elle leur dit de ne pas croire le genre de conseillers qui viendraient leur dire que l’augmentation des notes d’examen à elle seule conduira à un PIB suffisant, à une croissance future pour citer “et aux problèmes financiers et de répartition de l’éducation”, pour ne pas citer. Je voudrais maintenant être encore plus précis sur ce point, plus concret, sur deux points. Comme la plupart des auditeurs le savent, l’une des plus grandes tendances en matière de politique de l’éducation au cours des deux dernières décennies a été l’enquête PISA. Et il est actuellement prévu d’étendre le PISA aux pays à faible revenu dans le cadre de l’exercice PISA pour le développement. Je pense que d’ici 2030, l’OCDE et la Banque mondiale prévoient de mettre en place le PISA dans tous les pays du monde, en dépit de toute une série de critiques émanant d’universitaires, de praticiens, de la croyance normale selon laquelle l’éducation est plus complexe que cela.

La principale raison de l’extension du test PISA est qu’elle mènera à une plus forte croissance du PIB. En effet, les pays sont amenés à s’inscrire au PISA, en raison des types d’allégations que nous avons analysées tout au long de cet entretien. Mais nos recherches indiquent que ce ne sera pas le cas. Certaines de mes recherches préférées de ces dernières années ont été menées par des chercheurs autour de Paul Morris, à l’Institut de l’éducation de Londres, en collaboration avec de jeunes universitaires, Euan Auld, Yun You ou Bob Adamson à Hong Kong, ce qui illustre le fait que les tests PISA sont en réalité beaucoup plus pilotés par une série d’entreprises privées telles que Pearson, ETS, etc. Et des universitaires comme Stephen Ball, Bob Lingard et Sam Seller écrivent également de très bons articles dans ce sens. Une autre ligne de recherche importante émane de personnes comme Radhika Gorur qui écrit sur les dangers de la normalisation et sur la manière dont elle pourrait finalement détruire la diversité nécessaire à l’adaptation et à l’innovation futures dans l’éducation. Nous voulons donc, une fois de plus, que nos recherches fassent disparaître la croyance selon laquelle les recherches universitaires prouvent d’une manière ou d’une autre le lien entre le PISA et le PIB, et que les décideurs politiques perçoivent beaucoup plus clairement tous ces avertissements. Et si vous me permettez de passer rapidement à la deuxième dimension du concret, ce qui se passe maintenant, comme beaucoup d’auditeurs le savent aussi, c’est que le monde est, le monde de l’éducation, où le développement parle plus globalement des objectifs de l’après 2015. Fondamentalement, ce qui suit les objectifs du Millénaire pour le développement que nous allons dans les années 1990. Et en matière d’éducation, le quatrième objectif de développement durable est celui qui concerne l’éducation, il fixe des objectifs au niveau mondial pour améliorer l’apprentissage d’ici 2030. Et l’une des choses regrettables que nous avons remarquées dans ces discussions, c’est qu’il semble que la discussion imite l’OCDE et la Banque mondiale ; c’est-à-dire que nous voyons l’UNESCO et d’autres agences se référer explicitement aux études de Hanushek et Woessmann pour défendre les raisons pour lesquelles les évaluations de type PISA sont le meilleur moyen d’atteindre le quatrième objectif de développement durable. Ainsi, par rapport aux discussions autour de l’EPT, au début des années 1990, la discussion autour du quatrième objectif de développement durable semble prendre cette affirmation de capital de connaissances comme une vérité, une vérité académique.

Et nous nous sommes inquiétés de ce que cela mette le monde entier sur la voie de la mise en œuvre de tests de type PISA. Et, bien sûr, le changement de programme qui s’ensuit. Je ne veux pas, vous savez, un peu trop exagérer. Mais nous craignons qu’il n’y ait pas vraiment de preuves à cet égard et qu’il s’agisse d’exercices très coûteux qui, en fin de compte, ne contribueront que très peu à améliorer l’éducation. Nous espérons donc, une fois encore, que notre étude donnera aux décideurs politiques le type de base de recherche universitaire qui leur permettra de résister aux avancées de l’OCDE et de la Banque mondiale.

Will Brehm:  31:59
Avez-vous fait l’expérience d’un recul par rapport à certaines des conclusions parce que, de toute évidence, vous remettez en question certaines des idées reçues par la Banque mondiale, par l’OCDE, par des entreprises privées, comme vous l’avez dit, par Pearson et par ETS, le Service d’évaluation de l’éducation, qui produit toute une série de tests. On pourrait donc supposer que vos recommandations négatives qui découlent de vos conclusions pourraient finalement créer une réaction de rétraction de la part de ceux dont les intérêts sont contestés.

Jeremy Rappleye:  32:30
Oui, je crois que nous aimerions vivement avoir un retour en arrière, parce que le retour en arrière implique un engagement explicite. Encore une fois, nos observations ne sont pas nouvelles, à savoir qu’il n’y a pas de lien entre les résultats scolaires et la croissance du PIB. Ces affirmations sont très, très anciennes, cette idée est en réalité très ancienne. Mais ce qui se passe, c’est qu’à chaque vague de données qui sortent de ce genre de combat de chiens dont je parlais, cela va des enfants qui se lancent des pierres depuis différents arbres jusqu’aux ballons à air chaud en passant par les avions à réaction, et cela ne cesse de croître. Il n’y a pas de véritable engagement avec les réalités du terrain qui réfuterait tout cela. Donc, si nous obtenions un retour en arrière, nous l’accueillerions avec plaisir. Nous aimerions voir les preuves parce que notre décision n’est pas prise. C’est tout à fait possible. Je veux dire qu’il n’y a pas de certitudes, et il serait merveilleux de voir une discussion plus élaborée autour de ces idées. Nos résultats sont donc concluants. Mais dans le sens où avec cet ensemble de données, ils réfutent de manière concluante une hypothèse ou une affirmation particulière, mais ils ne sont pas concluants en termes de fin d’apprentissage. Nous pouvons toujours en comprendre davantage sur la relation complexe entre la société, l’économie, la culture et ce genre de choses. Nous serions donc très heureux de pouvoir élaborer sur ce point.

Will Brehm:  34:00
J’espère vraiment que vous pourrez ouvrir cette porte à un engagement beaucoup plus profond pour aborder certaines de ces grandes questions que vous avez évidemment à l’esprit, mais HikaruKomatsu et Jeremy Rappleye, merci beaucoup d’avoir rejoint Fresh Ed. C’était vraiment un plaisir de vous parler aujourd’hui.

Hikaru Komatsu:  34:15
Merci de nous recevoir. J’ai vraiment apprécié.

Jeremy Rappleye:  34:18
Merci infiniment, Will. Continuez votre excellent travail. Nous apprécions tous le dur labeur que vous accomplissez au nom des chercheurs en éducation et des praticiens de l’éducation du monde entier.

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Rwanda is perhaps most well-known for the genocide it experienced in the 1990s. In its post-conflict development, the country has had to balance colonial legacies, state centralizing tendencies, and the zeitgeist of neoliberalism. This has made for a careful balancing — one that has left the government regulating the society and economy while simultaneously reducing its responsibility to citizens.

In education, this balancing act manifests in the government’s three aims: credentials, controls, and creativity. The education system is based on credentials awarded through examinations, a colonial hangover, and controls students as part of the state’s centralization efforts; yet, somehow, the system promotes creativity so students can pursue a learner-centered education tailored to their own needs, preparing them for the 21st century labor market of precarious work.

My guest today, Catherine Honeyman, has a new book that explores Rwanda’s opportunities, challenges, and paradoxes in post-conflict development through the policy of mandatory entrepreneurship education, which is believed to be the country’s beacon for economic growth. Catherine Honeyman is a visiting scholar at the Duke Center for International Development and Managing Director of Ishya Consulting. Her new book, The Orderly Entrepreneur, takes us inside both policy making circles and classrooms to understand part of Rwanda’s social transformation. The Orderly Entrepreneur received an honorable mention from the Globalization and Education SIG’s 2016 Book Award.

Citation: Honeyman, Catherine, A., interview with Will Brehm, FreshEd, 64, podcast audio, March 13, 2017.

Transcript, translation, and resources:

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What is the connection between education and the economy? For many neoclassical economists, the connection is found in Human Capital theory.

My guest today, Professor Steve Klees, thinks human capital theory and rates of return analyses are very problematic.

In our conversation, Steve talks about his new article, “Human Capital and Rates of Return: Brilliant Ideas or ideological dead ends?”, which can be found in the latest issue of the Comparative Education Review. He takes us through human capital theory, its internal logical fallacies, and proposes a set of alternatives.

Steve Klees is a professor of International Education Policy in the College of Education, University of Maryland.

Citation: Klees, Steve, interview with Will Brehm, FreshEd, 54, podcast audio, December 5, 2016.

Will Brehm  1:45
Steve Klees, welcome to FreshEd.,

Steve Klees  1:52
I’m very glad to be here. Thank you for having me.

Will Brehm  1:55
You are an economist by training. But you have spent most of your career in the comparative and international education field. How do economists typically think about, or look at education?

Steve Klees  2:12
That’s a huge question, but the answer really depends on what kind of economist you’re talking about; they’re different schools of thought. But the the main dominant school of thought is called neoclassical economics. And neoclassical economics is really about competitive capitalist market systems. And within that education is a very important piece of understanding education, economics and development. In particular, neoclassical economists have developed something they call “human capital theory” that is a framework for understanding education’s role in the economy and in society.

Will Brehm  3:10
And how is human capital theory measured? How do economists see human capital?

Steve Klees  3:22
Well, human capital is a latecomer to economics, to neoclassical economics. Neoclassical economics goes back to Adam Smith, and the Wealth of Nations in the 1700s and the term “neoclassical” actually was coined at the end of the 1800s, and it’s about how a competitive market system operates. Human capital theory wasn’t developed till the late 1950s, early 1960s. Prior to human capital theory, economists understood the economy in terms of supply and demand, you’d always see economists talking about supply and demand – of small companies, small firms, small households competing with each other – and trying to understand how that competition worked, what you got out of it, how a market system worked.

Prior to human capital theory, economists had a lot of difficulty understanding labor and work. Labor prior to human capital theory was an anomaly. It wasn’t something you could talk about in terms of supply and demand. The economists in those days, in the 50s, look more like sociologists; it was a whole field of labor economics where they studied real world labor, they studied strikes, they studied unions, they studied how large firms operated. But education didn’t really fit into that structure at all – that way of thinking. And there were odd people out in neoclassical economics because they were more like sociologists, and they weren’t talking about competitive market structures and supply and demand, and human capital changed all that

Will Brehm  5:28
How so?

Steve Klees  5:29
Well, it really made economists able to talk and think about education and labor. Labor, especially, as a commodity like any other commodity that’s bought and sold on a marketplace, that has a price, that’s determined by supply and demand in the marketplace. Human Capital theory developed because it was explaining puzzles. People were trying to understand how economies grew. And they understood that there were more workers, and there was more capital investment, but they didn’t really have any idea about quality of work. And the whole idea of human capital, was it explained better, to neoclassical economists anyway, why some countries grew faster versus slower. They called it a revolution in thought, and the idea behind it was essentially simple – that education wasn’t just a consumer good, it was an investment. It was an investment in individuals, and it was an investment by society and societal development.

Will Brehm  6:48
So in a sense, it would be that if an individual were to receive education, or more education than another, they or he or she would be more productive in an economy, and maybe measured through income? Is this the way the neoclassical economists were seeing this?

Steve Klees  7:12
Yes. They looked at two outcomes of education in particular They looked at earnings, and they weren’t interested in private benefits as much; earnings were a benefit to you, income is a benefit to you. But they were interested in, within their framework earnings as a proxy for people’s productivity, like you said. And so, they were trying to get a handle on education’s connection to individual productivity. And secondly, education’s direct influence on economic growth, its effect on gross national product. So you saw starting in the 60s, lots of studies of the “rate of return”, they called it, the return on investment. So education in terms of earnings as a proxy for productivity, and in terms of economic growth measured by gross national product.

Will Brehm  8:15
So based on the rate of return methodology is is some education better than other education for foreign economy or for foreign individuals’ productivity?

Steve Klees  8:27
Yes. I should explain a little bit about rates of return. Rates of return are a measure of benefits and costs. In neoclassical economics, the private sector is motivated by profit. Profit is a signal that this endeavor is valuable. Adam Smith talked about the invisible hand of supply and demand working in the public interest. That’s the profits supposedly representing where peoples’ benefits exceed their costs; where the outcome of whatever you’re making, tables or software or whatever, the benefits exceed the costs. And so economists were looking for something as analogous to that in the public sector. So the idea was to explicitly study the benefits and costs of public sector activities, whatever field, education, health care, environment, transportation, and rate of return is a summary measure, after you figure out what are all the benefits to an education investment, what are all the costs of that investment, and it’s a summary measure to try and get at  – gosh, you know, you’re making 20% on your investment, the benefits exceed costs by 20%. And so that’s applied to lots of different types of educational activities, and other sector activities, to study the returns to education, of various types of vocational education versus academic education; of higher different levels of education, higher education versus early childhood, or primary education; different programs of education. Anything where you can find reasonable monetary measures of outcomes. Sometimes you can’t do that, you’re just looking at test score differences between different programs. And then economists do a more limited array of what they call “cost effectiveness” analysis. But mostly economists really like to go after cost-benefit analysis, because that gives them a metric that they can compare with returns in the private sector: Is this a better investment to take your money out of the private sector, tax it and put in an education or health care or environmental protection?

Will Brehm  11:13
This sort of thinking of cost-benefit analysis of education to an economy, do you see this is problematic in anyway?

Steve Klees  11:24
Yes, the paper you mentioned that I did, and actually much of my work over the last – I hesitate to say it – 40 years (I’ve been working in this field for a while) has been with the problems of neoclassical economics, generally. And more specifically, with the internal dynamic, the internal problems with that field that gives you measures like benefit-cost studies of rates of return. My work has been recently basically saying that even not taking in a critical outside neoclassical economics look, which we can talk about in a little bit, of political economy perspective, for example. But even if you take the neoclassical economics perspective, there are so many problems within that framework, that for me, the benefit-cost analysis/rate of return type measures just fall apart; that they become almost meaningless.

Will Brehm  12:41
How, so? Let’s dig into it, human capital theory, rates of return analyses. If you’re saying that there are problems of the internal logic of neoclassical economics for human capital theory, and for rates of return analysis, can you can you dig more into that? Like how, so? What are some examples of this?

Steve Klees  13:05
I don’t know whether to start with the details or the broader picture. Let me just start with the broader picture, because I think, then the problems with the details become clearer. And the broader picture really revolves around one central idea of neoclassical economics, and that’s the idea of economic efficiency or societal efficiency. They sometimes called it Pareto efficiency after an Italian economist a century ago called Pareto, and it’s a complex idea that I find completely unsound and unreal. And I’ll try and explain the idea briefly, explain why I think it’s unsound, and then give you how it manifests itself in this cost-benefit/rate of return type studies. So efficiency is something, you know, it’s a common sense concept. So to us, people talk about efficiency of this or that; it’s an engineering concept, it’s a physics concept of, you know, you can do more with less somehow. But in education, you can talk about it sensibly, right? Limited ideas of efficiency, like you can talk about an educational system as inefficient because it has a lot of dropouts, or a lot of people repeating grades, or a lot of people who aren’t learning much. So there’s a common sense idea of efficiency that makes sense to all of us. And I have no objections to that. It’s the economist concept of efficiency that’s problematic. And that’s not about an individual sector or individual project, as much as it’s the overall society is deemed economically efficient if it operates according to the assumptions of a very highly competitive market framework that in abstract neoclassical economics discussion is called “perfect competition”. Perfect competition is a competitive system that is so highly competitive that you’ve got many buyers and many sellers of identical products: that nobody’s big, nobody can influence prices, they’re all taking prices in the market, they’re all small potatoes. Consumers and producers are the two major motivators and movers of the economy. Consumers are just out there maximizing their happiness, and producers are just out there maximizing their profits. And if everything functions according to, and information is perfect, you know everything about everything. If you operate according to these simple assumptions, the whole economy is deemed efficient. And what they mean by that is that somehow, not only is there no waste, you’re you’re doing everything as cheaply as you possibly can. But you’ve got the right balance of everything, the correct balance of everything. So you’re producing the right amount of chairs and tables, and movies and hamburgers, and software. There’s something called “correct balance”. And that’s what’s efficient in this. And it’s completely separable from their other major concept, which is equity or fairness or the distribution of these things. So the distribution is sort of irrelevant to efficiency. You can have an efficient society in which half the people in the world are starving. That’s that can be efficient, because efficiency is just about those people who have effective demand, meaning they have money. And they can wave that money in the marketplace and demand goods and services. And so efficiency is really to economists about forgetting equity, forgetting distribution. Are we producing as much as possible with the inputs of land/labor/capital/technology that we have? In the theory, and in practice, this is just simply absurd.

There’s actually in theory neoclassical economists have something called “second best theory”. And second best theory says that if you don’t live in the first best world of perfect competition with all those tight assumptions – unreal, impossible assumptions – but let’s say have one monopoly in one sector in which everything else is highly competitive, second best says in the second best world with just one imperfection, you have no idea if the economy’s efficient at all, there’s no idea if it’s close to efficient at all. Because this framework is so tight that you only get this overall efficiency of the correct balance of things if prices are the accurate signal sending benefit and costs signals to producers that act in the public interest. With one price off, all of the prices are affected. So in practice, efficiency demands, for example, that you have the correct balance, the correct inputs balance of producing yachts for rich people and rice and beans for poor people. Well, that’s just a distributional issue to me. That’s an equity issue to me. There’s no right balance of yachts and rice and beans; there’s no right balance of computer software, higher education, early childhood education, nutritional programs, roads building. There’s no correct balance of that. And in practice, there’s just no vantage point in the sky. That’s what this efficiency idea is. Where you could separate what we produce from who gets it. They’re all integrally tied in practice. And this is what in practice they’re trying to do with cost-benefit analysis of rate of return: get an idea of whether something in particular is efficient or not.

Will Brehm  20:06
Just hearing that, it just makes me think that the theory of the world in neoclassical economics doesn’t match the reality that I live in. I mean, certainly people do not have perfect information when it comes to to buying anything. But at the same time, I also think that this separation of equity and distribution from efficiency seems to have actually happened. The world I see today, there seems to be a huge gap between the rich and the poor, that those eating rice and beans and those on their yachts.

Steve Klees  20:48
Yes, absolutely. The real world today is very problematic in terms of distribution, as we all know. In terms of equity.

Will Brehm  21:04
How is this embodied in rates of return?

Steve Klees  21:08
The whole efficiency framework is translated into guidelines for the public sector through cost-benefit analysis. And not costs and benefits to private individuals they’re after, they’re after costs and benefits to society as a whole. Because they want to correct the market, to account for all the costs and benefits to society as a whole. And so if you’re thinking about education, you think about the benefits of education. They buy benefits in terms of earnings to an individual. That’s a benefit to society if earnings reflect productivity. That’s problematic because earnings are a price, and prices are distorted in real world economies. So there’s no reason to believe that earnings reflect productivity at all. Earnings are determined by market power, by the vagaries of who’s got skills and who doesn’t have skills, on where firms do their business. So the idea of earnings as a proxy for productivity is a problem.

A second problem is that even if you wanted earnings as a proxy for productivity, that’s just one individual benefit. That is a social benefit, because it measures productivity, but there are what they call externalities. There are benefits to other people who were not included in the market transaction, you decide how much education you’re getting, some supplier gives it to you, a public school or private school, a training program, the benefits to education go way beyond you. And those are not taken into account in the market. So when there are benefits beyond the individual, they’re called externalities, because the market doesn’t take them into account. And therefore, the market is making inefficient decisions, because it’s not counting all the benefits. So in education, you can think of lots of benefits that aren’t just to you, your education benefits other people through your coworker productivity, through your family, through household health decisions, through helping your children, through lowering crime rates, through lowering welfare rates. It’s got lots of these external effects. And the second problem with rates of return is measuring those all are very problematic.

And the third problem with rates of return is that even if we were trusting earnings as a good measure, it’s very hard, I would say impossible, to figure out the effect of education on earnings. This goes to our problems, not neoclassical economics, but our problems with research methods generally. Separating our causes from effect, impact evaluation is extremely difficult to the point where I think it can’t be done quantitatively. If, for example, you took 1000 people and you ask them what’s their income, and then you try to figure out what are the dozens of factors that make those incomes different. And then you’ve actually tried to build a mathematical model that would separate those dozens of factors, so that you could say, “Well, their income went up, because they were a union this much, because they had another year of education this much, because they were in a high demand field this much, because they were healthy that much.” I mean, it boggles the mind. I’ve done another paper on the economist statistical procedure called regression analysis that tries to do that – it tries to take the dozens of factors affecting some outcome and separate them out. And my view is that we just can’t do that. So that even the minimal idea of looking at the impact of education on individual earnings is problematic. Taking them all together, I find rates of return and cost-benefit analysis, generally not a good basis for decision-making.

Will Brehm  25:48
But yet, it has been. These methods and this particular theory have been dominant and have been used to make decisions in education systems, among other sectors. So what’s the scholarly track record of those using rates of return and human capital theory? All of the critiques that you put forward seem very plausible to me, but yet rates of return and human capital theory has had quite the long longevity in academic research.

Steve Klees  26:23
Yes, it’s certainly has. And just two things to say in response to that. One is you asked about their track record, and in terms of track record, there’s no testing this. This isn’t something you can predict and then find out was a true. Because, I say the rate of return to expanding higher education is 12% in your country at this time. Is that a good investment, if you decide 12% is a good return, and you put your money in. But there’s no validation of whether you got 12% or not, so there’s no track record in terms of these predictions. They’re making predictions now, for example, about education and GNP. And I just find those scary and absurd. There’s some very interesting economists, very competent economists doing this. Eric Hanushek and [Ludger] Woessmann, and they tried to do regression analysis to say if your PISA scores go up (the PISA being that international test that people take as a proxy for cognitive achievement), how much will your GNP go up? And they come to these conclusions like a 10% increase in cognitive skills gives you a 2% boost on GDP and if everybody moved a standard deviation on PISA, your GNP would grow seven times in the next 30 years. I mean, this is carrying this framework to an absurdity to me. They can’t separate out the impact of education from the dozens and dozens of other factors that influence GDP or GNP, and then to take that out as its influence now and project that 30 or 40 years in the future is just the height of irrational use of a framework of this kind. And I understand why they do it. These are reasonable people, you want good information for decision-making, and to economists, this idea of efficiency, separable from equity is the touchstone.

But the real question for me is the second question you asked: basically, why has this framework been dominant for so long? And neoclassical economists would say at the very simple answer – it’s because of its explanatory power. It explains differences in investments in health and differences in individual behavior. And it’s true, I mean, in differences in individual behavior, this is useful framework because your decisions are affected by the returns to you, and you make decisions about your educational investment versus your investment in health care, versus your decision to go to a movie or your decision to buy a house, about returns to you. And that’s fine. So there is some use for this framework in terms of understanding people’s motivations. But in terms of societal’s efficiency and investment preferences, this framework is bankrupt and it’s empty. So to me, and to many critics, it’s not the dominant framework because of its explanatory power, it’s the dominant framework because it fits. Human capital theory is embedded in neoclassical economics, and that’s embedded in capital market – it fits with a capitalist market economy. The critics would argue the reason there’s so much attention to efficiency and rates of return and technical views of whether you invest in this thing, or that and how much do you do is because it makes sense in terms of efficiency. If you lose that efficiency framework, you realize that this is just a way to support a market system. This is neoclassical economics is an ideological justification for capitalist market systems to be efficient. To act in everybody’s interests aside from equity. If you question that, then you can see neoclassical economics generally, and human capital theory, as basically an ideological framework and ideological bulwark.

The whole skills discourse today comes from human capital theory and a skills discourse seems like common sense. It says if people only had better skills, they would be better off, and their countries and societies would be better off. That skills discourse based as it is on human capital theory and neoclassical economics is very problematic. People today have talked about the “triple economic challenge” that we face, and they talk about the three things: job creation; poverty elimination; and inequality reduction. Human capital theory and neoclassical economics generally gives one simplistic answer to all three challenges: lack of skills or equivalently, the mismatch between what education is producing and what businesses in the economy need. For the critics, lack of skills is not why people are poor, are not why jobs are scarce, and not why societies are so unequal. The culprit for the critics is that the very structure of the world system in which we are living, capitalism most particularly, but patriarchy, racism and other structures. Those very structures are problematic. While capitalism has increased our ability to produce material goods tremendously, so it looks very productive in that way, in another sense, it’s one of the most inefficient and destructive structures that you can imagine. Why? Because almost half the world – the World Bank says 3 billion people – are relegated to the margins of society. Capitalism has not created jobs for them, livelihoods for them. For the vast majority of our global population, if capitalism was an efficient system, we would be taking advantage of the skills and develop the skills of the 7 billion people on the planet and produced a lot more. Capitalism in its 200, 300 years hasn’t done that, and isn’t doing that. You know, some people talk about we live in a meritocracy. What nonsense! These 3 billion people are relegated to the margins of society because they’re not meritorious? It’s not that at all. It’s poverty, unemployment and inequality, not to mention environmental destruction and other problems, are not failures of capitalism, as they’re sometimes seen, but the logical outcome of its inherent structure. So that that in many ways, contrary to prevailing economic views, human capital has been a very destructive discourse. This is contrary to what the majority of economists think as it’s been brilliant, but it’s been a destructive discourse, because it’s really blamed individuals for their lack of skills, their lack of investment in the right skills, the lack of good choices. And so instead of understanding problematic structures that we need to do something about, we’ve been directing attention towards the supply of individuals and how to fix that. And we’ve been fixing it for decades. And the payoff with poor countries is abysmal. And the payoff even within rich countries is abysmal. The inequalities within the US, the level of hunger in the United States, the level of marginalization, the level of poor dead end jobs, the level of insecurity, the level of environmental destruction, this is not an efficient system.

Will Brehm  36:04
Turning to alternatives. I mean, is it even possible, or can we even have an education system in a capitalist economy without human capital theory? It almost seems like many of these problems that we see in education in terms of equity that you were just mentioning stem from the capitalist economic systems that that are pervasive in most countries. So how can we envision and create education systems in alternative ways that account for equity while still being in capitalist economies?

Steve Klees  36:48
Yes. All you’re asking today’s tough questions.

Will Brehm  36:55
I apologize.

Steve Klees  36:57
That’s okay. Let me preface my response to education with a little bit on how these alternatives are viewed to the very structures in which we live. Because education can only be successful if it’s a part of a challenge to those structures in fundamental ways. And there’s a lot of alternatives. Everything is contested terrain in this world; everything is up for grabs, up for debates with different views. So I view the alternative to neoclassical economics as what I call “political economy”. Political economy is a contested term and people on the right use it as well as people on the left. I’m using it more from the left of center point of view of critics of capitalism, critics of other world system structures. And for me, a political economy perspective today raises questions about the structures of the world system in which we live.

It’s the intersection of feminist perspectives, of post- perspectives, postcolonial, post structural, neo-Marxist perspectives, queer theories about heterosexism in society, disability theories, critical race theories. Not that these theories are identical, not that these approaches are identical, but all of them see marginalization as central, and all of them see marginalization not as failures of the world system -they’re failures for sure – but more is a logical consequence of the structures of patriarchy and racism and capitalism in which we live. And while there’s agreement that reproduction is pervasive, that is this marginalization is not an aberration, systems are out there that reproduce and legitimate marginalization and inequality. And the education system is part of that, as are all of the systems in which we live.

But the critics, the political economists, as I label them agree that while reproduction is pervasive, there are lots of spaces for progressive action. Through exercising individual and collective agency. You have the ability, and especially collectively, we have the ability to challenge these structures. And collective challenge is perhaps the watchword of political economists. Social movements like the women’s movement, like the civil rights movement. These are worldwide now. Like the landless movement in Brazil and now other countries. The poorest people in the world are organized and having an influence on policy. The untouchable movement in India, not anti-globalization, but the alter-globalization movement and in human rights movements and the children rights movement. And so there’s lots of examples of contestation at the systemic level and in education.

There’s lots of examples in every education in every city, in every country, and in every school system of what political economists call more progressive approaches to education. The legacy of people at Paolo Freire, the famous Brazilian educator who founded a field that we call today “critical pedagogy”. Critical pedagogy is a political economy approach to education, arguing that while reproduction is pervasive in schools, there’s lots of ways to challenge that. And so people, individual teachers challenge that all the time. They close their doors to their classroom, they use different learning materials, they teach their students differently about fairness, about equity, about the structures in which they live, they raise questions on that. And it’s not just individual teachers, there are systems of it. In Brazil, the landless movement which I just mentioned, have their own schools that are Freirean, that are participatory, that are so different from the technicist technical approach to education that we have today throughout the world. In Brazil, something called the citizen school movement that, again, is very participatory, that involves the community. We say “community involvement” all the time, but this is serious community involvement. This is serious democracy for students, for teachers, for administrators, participating and directing curriculum, directing grading, making decisions at a local level together, and sometimes very explicitly challenging the types of feeding education into work and into the labor market that dominates so strongly. On the alternative, for most political economists, when you reject the sort of functionalist view of sociologists, of society, of efficiency of markets, and say, “This is not something in which everybody is benefiting, there’s conflict here, there’s different interests, and the only way that’s going to change is through struggle, through individual and collective struggle.”

What that means in terms of alternative system-wide is difficult to say. At a minimum, where we’re not a neoliberal form of capitalism. Capitalism in the 60s, and 70s was a much more liberal capitalism in which government intervention was recognized as necessary to correct the ills that were essentially built into the structure of capitalism. Neoliberalism starting in the 80s with Reagan and Thatcher and Kohl in Germany said: Government is the problem, the market is the solution. We need to get away from that. We need to restore the legitimacy of government action, we’ve got the sustainable development goals of the United Nations on the table. Goals that are very ambitious about improving the world, we’re not going to get there under neoliberal capitalism. We’re not going to get there when we think it’s illegitimate for government to direct action. We’re not going to get there if everything is a public-private partnership and depends on corporate profitability in order to direct that system.

And maybe we have to move beyond capitalism. At the local level there’s lots of alternatives. And  broadly speaking, it’s the subject to a whole another conversation. And I have a paper coming out next year on capitalism in education that talks about alternatives, so maybe we’ll do another podcast there. But the broad answer is, you need to build towards a more participatory democracy and more towards a workplace democracy. The problem with capitalism is that our workplace is authoritarian. We teach democracy in the political sphere; we don’t have a lot of that at a very participatory level either. But we need democracy in the workplace as well.

Will Brehm  45:28
It seems like a lot of what you’re saying is that we have to think beyond the connection of education as being for the development of human capital, and having a different value of education. And there can be many it sounds like, and many different ways of achieving those values or putting those values into action. But it seems like that’s the first step: decoupling, or de-linking the connection between education and human capital development.

Steve Klees  46:05
No, I would agree. And to be fair to human capital theorists, some of them recognize that broad connection. It’s got narrowed in practice so much that all we’re looking at as the connection to education to the workplace. But citizenship can be subsumed in that human capital framework. The problem is its basis in efficiency. You want to talk about the many things education does, the many more things we want it to do. We don’t want to just make education about workplace. We don’t want to make education just about literacy and numeracy. We need education for peacebuilding, for people to not be aggressive, for people to be fair with each other, for people to have resilience, and people to be creative. So there’s lots of purposes of education, and human capital theory and practices just narrow the field too much. And more broadly speaking about this political economy framework versus a more mainstream dominant human capital neoclassical framework, the political economy framework doesn’t offer the technical policy guidance that rates of return give. For neoclassical economists, policies are a dime a dozen. You just do your cost-benefit analysis and this year, vocational education is better than academic education, higher education is better than primary education.

If you reject that framework, what you have is human capital theory, neoclassical economics – our ideologies masking as science. It’s absurd to think that there’s some way to assess technically, the tradeoff between higher education and primary education, between education and health and the environment. All we have is a messy, participatory democratic struggle of individuals and groups with some common interests and some different interests. And for me, what we have to do is find ways to facilitate that struggle and in doing so, economics and the dominant scientific perspective says you need to stay neutral and objective. For me, I’ve learned that you always take sides. That when I write a paper, when I teach a class, when I’m doing research, when I engage in policy, when I engage in my life, I always have to take a side. And if you don’t think you’re taking a side, you are because this is a struggle. This is contestation. And I guess my concluding point is that for me, this is what I said in the paper you cited, neoclassical economics and human capital theory are ideological dead ends. But fortunately for all of us, there are lots of alternatives.

Will Brehm  49:29
Well, Steve, Klees, you gave us a lot to think about in this conversation. Thank you so much for joining FreshEd, and you’re definitely welcome back when that new paper comes out on capitalism in education.

Steve Klees  49:41
Thank you very much for having me.

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