An Old Lesson for New Times




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Peer reviewed


An old lesson for new times? Abstract: This paper contends that, when considering “the meanings of global and local in the history and philosophy of education”, it is necessary to appraise the political, economic and social facets of the journey that brought us to the current “globalised” way of being; in short, the current is not divorced from the past and not independent of it. Indeed, the present, as a product of the past, can only be understood by interrogating and analysing the political and economic “actors”, locally and internationally, and, the consequent outcomes, intended or unintended, of their actions, policies and behaviours, both past and present. The main thrust of this paper is that it is a flawed concept that there is one coherent, identifiable and valid philosophical discourse, arising from universally accepted ideas, as implied in any identification of the errant ideas of “the right and left wing extremists” mentioned in the conference brief. It suggests that, in line with a functionalist perspective, the current status quo is the norm and that the challenges to it, both from right or left, are “radical” deviations. Whilst few people, other than terrorists themselves, would challenge the idea that acts of terror are not only radical but detrimental to the construction of a “good society”, the labelling of “right and left” as if they were the same and equally given to acts of atrocity, has no philosophical value and serves only to marginalise legitimate philosophical and sociological perspectives. Nor does the word “radical” have one universally accepted definition. Of course, when used by governments and the media to depict active terrorists (or even significant social groups), the particular definition in use is clearly understood on a universal basis. That does not mean universal acceptance of it. Furthermore, the hate crimes of the right are in no way reflected in the actions or orientation of those on the left. This paper draws on the work of Piketty, Wilkinson & Pickett, Crouch, Varoufakis, Skidelsky & Skidelsky, and, Standing, among others, to illustrate the scale of inequality encouraged and developed by global capitalism. Case studies of recent De Montfort University (DMU) study visits to India, and Florida, and anecdotal (observational) evidence from Nigeria illustrates the global nature of these inequalities. Oxfam produced a report in 2017 that indicated that 42 people had more wealth than 3.6 billion of the poorest people in the world. This followed reports in 2013 identifying 85 people, and, in 2015, 67 people as having more wealth than 50% of the world’s population. Thus, suggestive of growing world inequalities. Furthermore, some estimates put modern slavery (labour slavery, sexual exploitation, forced marriage, and, organ harvesting) at 46 million people worldwide. This is indicative of the fact that the term “extremist” may better be applied to those who defend the prevailing social injustices of extreme poverty and increasing concentrations of wealth where 100 people could solve world poverty 4 times over, or do so once and remain incredibly wealthy. This paper concludes with the assertion that, not only, is it possible to challenge these glaring inequalities but that global capitalism has entered an era of super-exploitation which will result in perpetual wars, crises and impoverishment unless action is taken to re-organise society globally. This cannot be undertaken on the basis of the profit motive which is the single most important reason for the plight we find ourselves in and, therefore, “individuals with different backgrounds and values” are unlikely to come together to undertake such a monumental and necessary task. History has taught us that the ruling class will never give up their power and privilege willingly.

Key words:- globalised; outcomes; deviation; universal; good society; labelling; inequality; global capitalism; slavery; super-exploitation; extremist; re-organise; profit; history; power.



global capitalism;, super-exploitation, power


Herriot, C., Djiapouras, E. and Djiapouras, S. (2019) An Old Lesson for New Times. Annual Conference of the Finnish Society for History & Philosophy of Education. Oulu University, Oulu, Finland,11th -12th June 2019.


Research Institute

Institute for Research in Criminology, Community, Education and Social Justice