As The LEGO Movie told us, through the story arc of its villain, Lord Business, the biggest threat to freedom posed by technology is not that machines will make us into slaves. It’s that our best and brightest will think of us, and themselves, as no more than machines—and use their power to rule accordingly.
That is why you don't have to be a Tea Partier to recoil in disgust at the all-out PR campaign Big Business is launching to shove as many Americans as possible into the machinery of Common Core.
There are a host of complaints about Common Core, the state standards initiative for consistent education guidelines. Some people worry about Washington bureaucrats telling Americans what they have to learn. Some worry about public schools telling educators what they have to teach. Some argue that all standards do is transform education into an exercise in successfully gaming test after test. Some even fear that teachers can’t be expected to achieve that success at the drop of a hat.
We need to bluntly confess that all these concerns and more boil down to a single bad idea—one that’s revealed by Big Business’s insanely obdurate and fanatical devotion to the ideals of Common Core.
The Common Core standards owe their existence to the appeal of a simple master concept: Everyone should be an employee.
Once, our lords of business believed that everyone should maximize their profits. That hoary ideal has gone out the window, as corporate America fell in love with its vision of itself as more than an economic engine—a way of life.
Corporatism, the cozy, rigged relationship between big business and big government, isn't primarily driven by a quest for goodies and status, although those make for pleasant enough perks. It’s animated by a deeper longing to transcend mere money making and find meaning in loving mastery.
Quite like Lego’s Lord Business, today’s corporate interests view the ideal world as one in which employment is perfected. Full employment is just a means to the end of perfect employment—a dreamland in which, as the theme song goes, “everything is cool when you’re part of a team,” and the team includes everyone.
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