Why does tension exist between teacher and student? Why has `banking education' been the prime force in educational practices? To answer these questions one would want to uncover the origin of patriarchal trends in education. These are found in the family, for the family as an agent of society is the root of all history.
Alice Miller's conception of `poisonous pedagogy' helps us to expand on Freire's excursus on education to a general theory of pedagogy. If one is to speak of a teacher/student dichotomy, one must first speak of the parent/child relationship of inequality. According to Miller in Thou Shalt Not Be Aware, `poisonous pedagogy' refers:
... to that tradition of child-rearing which attempts to suppress all
vitality, creativity, and feeling in the child and maintain the autocratic,
godlike position of the parents at all costs. (4)
Simply put, Miller is saying that the needs of the parents replace the needs of the child. In ideal relationships, however, no one should be idealised nor should anybody's needs take precedent over any other person's needs. Yet many parents believe that children are innately, aggressive animals who need to be civilised. Hence, the source of the problem in the parent's eyes becomes the child's feelings. When a parent perceives such honest emotions as anger, jealousy, envy, and powerlessness as being subversive, the parent tries to get the child to rid her/himself of the emotion. Since Mommy and Daddy are always right according to `poisonous pedagogy', the child inevitably develops a core of self-hatred and self-doubt. The creative drive is inverted as the child is directed to be silent and watch television like a good kid.
Miller, in agreement with Freud on the valid influence that the past has on our present conciousness, nonetheless breaks with him on his theory of aggression. While Freudians would argue that children are born with innate, aggressive drives that need to be repressed for the good of society, Miller retorts that aggression is a product of repression motivated by fear. When a parent is confronted with such real emotions as fear, joy, and despair, these emotions are too strong for the parent to tolerate. Ways are then found by the parent to pacify the child without any regard for the harm being done to the child's creativity and self-growth.
The parent may believe that no harm has really been done to the child since he/she is very young and will forget about the event anyway. Yet, these events will haunt the child again and again via the repetitive regressive compulsion. Whenever this occurs, the individual will re-experience and re-enact the great traumatic events in the development of her/his self-growth and awareness.
To understand how Freud could have distorted his earlier discovery of the transforming consciousness, one needs to inspect carefully his starting points and how they led him to a patriarchal solution. At that point we would understand how Freud was a prisoner of his own borgeois morality and patriarchal values. Freud started with the id. As it is the oldest, most primitive, and fundamental self, the id aims for the satisfaction of its instinctual needs in accordance with the pleasure principle. In contrast to the pleasure principle is the reality principle. According to Freud, this latter principal acts for the advancement of society by repressing instinctual needs. His concept of sublimation refers to the suppression of some aggressive need to be transformed into a civilised solution. Freud believed that the child needed to fit into society and to do so must forgo of the pleasure principle.
Hence, the ego is to act as the mediator between the id and the outside world. It has the task of representing the external world to the id. The ego, by dethroning the pleasure principle, supposedly offers an individual so-called greater success and security. Subsequently, people act in one-dimensional ways according to the reality principle in the guise of `what is right action'. As with `poisonous pedagogy' the actions of so-called authorities become exemplified in contrast to the object person's actions. Finally, it is the superego which tightens the grips on the repressed self. By turning mind and body into instruments of alienated labour, those forces of the status quo churn out the propaganda of the performance principle.
Things that seem harmless such as shopping malls, radios, and microwave ovens when seen critically show their repressive nature. They are all part of a system based on mass cultural depravity. Instead of fighting their subordination to the productive process, many people carry on as if their lives were actually free and enlightened. By sublimating their pleasure drive they become geared to a rationality which is imposed on them from the outside. Yet, neither the alterations of society nor their desires are their own. Society, nation, and civilisation has organised them all. And this is enforced by both parents and educators.
Herbert Marcuse in Eros and Civilisation says,
In a repressive society, individual happiness and productive development
are in contradiction to society. If they are defined as values to be realised
within this society, they become themselves repressive. (5)
If the reality principle and `poisonous pedagogy' continue to guide Western civilisation, then interests of domination will prevail over the struggle for existence and repression will continue. However, if people could overcome their subordination to the productive process, then liberated instincts could finally reign over the aggressive ones. Repression and mutilated longings would die away as natural Eros would guide our actions. Instead, Eros is weakened as the growth of aggression lies inherent in the oppressive organisation of society.
It is precisely the frustration of that life instinct which results in the need to destroy. Irrationality becomes institutionalised resulting in alienated people working against one another. Labour no longer acts as a mean to self-realisation but limits the worker's `pleasure time' to four hours. Yet, in the end, the repressed, natural longings which no politician could cure and which have no limit as to time, shock the ego into rebellion. Without proper attention by good teachers or friends, such people tend to become increasingly paranoid and detached.
In speaking about the inter-connectedness of Eros and Thanatos and their relationship to destructiveness, Erich Fromm in The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness says that,
The drive for life and the drive for destruction are not mutually
independent factors but are in reversed interdependence. The
more the drive towards life is thwarted, the stronger is the drive
towards destruction; the more life is realised, the less is the
strength of destructiveness. Destructiveness is the outcome of
unlived life. (6)
According to Fromm there are three sacred substances that the body may hold. The male body expresses itself through semen. The female body expresses itself through milk. The third fluid, which so happens to transcend biological sexuality, is blood. (7) Basically, the first two fluids mentioned are strongly associated with Eros, the life drive. They are the sensuous and positive highlights of a natural, sexual life.
However, if an individual has become fragmented by a sexually repressed patriarchal system, Eros will equally become disoriented. The Death Drive or Thanatos will strengthen and expand as a result. One manifestation of a repressed people will be the need to control, even to the extent of mutilating a person's life force, her/his blood. Whenever Thanatos dominates Eros to such an extent, necrophiliac tendencies can rise. According to Fromm,
Necrophilia in the characterological sense can be described as the
passionate attraction to all that is dead, decayed, putrid, sickly; it is
the passion to transform that which is alive into something unalive; to
destroy for the sake of destruction; the exclusive interest in all that is
purely mechanical. It is the passion `to tear apart living structures'. (8)
Two types of necrophilia exist. First, there is sexual necrophilia where men feel the need to have sexual relations with dead females. Cemetery attendants for centuries have been known to have committed such ghastly, perverted acts. Secondly, there is nonsexual necrophilia which Fromm defines as,
... the desire to handle, to be near to, and to gaze at corpses,
and particularly the desire to dismember them. (9)
When people have no core self, that is, when there is a great amount of regression-surplus from years of Eros-defeating events, two types of people may emerge. One is the masochistic automaton who finds relief in her/his weakness and insignificance through a blind submission to the strong father-figure like a fuhrer. The second type is much more dangerous. This type includes sadists and authoritarian characters who have an intense desire to control and hurt people. The core of sadism is to have control over that third sacred substance which is blood.
Yet, the sadist cannot kill everyone, as he needs the objects alive if he's to control them. Nonetheless, even though the sadist may have more power and brute authority over the automaton, he will always be dependent like the automaton on outside realities which have none to do with self-awareness and enlightenment. Thus, neither the automaton nor the sadist is free.
Next up in part three: Hitler