Teachers as the Gravediggers of Neoliberalism: Promoting Dialectical Individualism from the Ruins of the Neoliberal State
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Neoliberalism will not die naturally, it must be killed through relentless criticism. However, as criticism of neoliberalism expands, scholars must not reify the term. Scholars must begin to disentangle the historical antecedents that comprise neoliberalism in order to expose it for the sham that it is. Perhaps the biggest sham of neoliberalism is its call for individual freedom. Specifically, by paying attention to the more revolutionary conceptions of individualism contained in some strands of Eighteenth century liberalism, the contradictions of neoliberalism can be exposed. If education, and society in general, is to move past neoliberalism, neoliberalism cannot simply be discarded or wished away, rather, it must be dialectically negated by superseding its unjust elements and retaining and transforming any of its more revolutionary elements to lay a new foundation for education in a post-neoliberal world. Drawing off this dialectical negation of neoliberalism, this paper argues for a new conception of individualism called dialectical individualism. This is not a return to some idealized form of liberalism however, but a new phase in human history with a new conception of individualism. The dialectical movement should not be seen as the product of some otherworldly force, but rather, it should be viewed as centered in the individual and driven by volunteerism in the context of the historical situation. Students can be taught to be dialectical in their actual school work, by writing challenging papers, by writing vision statements, and by partaking in collaborative assignments, and through their understanding of history and the present.