Reconstructing History, Part 10: Means, Motive, and Opportunity
Many of us have seen at least a few episodes of police procedurals and are familiar with the concept of “means, motive, and opportunity”. It is not a new concept. I remember reading about it as a kid in my Hardy Boys Detective Handbook.
As I did some thinking on the concept, I realized how much “means, motive, and opportunity” resembles the strategic planning “ends, ways, and means”. Ends and motive are similar in concept and perform roughly the same function in each model. Means are virtually identical in each model. The only
difference seems to be ways versus opportunity. Ways in the strategic model are more like modus operandi in a criminal model.
Perhaps if we change the strategy model a bit, we build a model that is congruent. The second version of the stool replaces operations with opportunity and tactics with actions. As I think on, it is a better model. We need to understand opportunities (and using the proverbial in every crisis, there is an opportunity. This concept includes all events that affect an organization) and how they shape strategy. We then need to knit ends, ways and means together with actions. This seems strange, linking strategy to crime, but there are similarities. And those organizations that are upended by disruptive strategies may feel like the disruptors robbed them. After all, the pundits of the Gilded Age called the captains of industry “robber barons”. If this makes adherents of Adam Smith’s free markets feel uncomfortable, good. It should. The robber barons of the Gilded Age were not free market capitalists once they were large companies, and neither are the robber barons of today in the tech industry.
The prior parts of this series developed means, motives, and opportunities for why the education institution is re-constructing history. They also discussed some actors, such as TIAA, the National Education Association (NEA), and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). Corporatism lurks in the background in these parts. This part will develop the who and the how.
But first, let us compare large corporations in the Gilded Age and the Knowledge Age.
|Gilded Age||Knowledge Age|
|Control of Key Infrastructure||Yes||Yes|
|Government Control||Some (Trust Busting)||Little, Global & deregulation|
The differences are more of a degree than an order of magnitude. Corporations in both ages wanted to crush their competition and dominate their markets. The biggest difference is the corporations in the Gilded Age were largely national and owed allegiance to their national governments. While some of the Gilded Age Robber Barons had more wealth than the US government, the US government exerted some control as President Theodore Roosevelt’s trust-busting shows. The corporations had limited capability to shift wealth and operations offshore, especially before the Spanish American War. Today, corporations maintain much of their wealth and operations in other countries. They even subsidize foreign markets with higher prices in the US market. Pharmaceuticals are an excellent example.
From an education perspective, corporations in both ages want the same thing: compliant workers with the skills the corporations need. In the Gilded Age, these were semi-educated factory workers. In the Knowledge Age, corporations want educated technical workers. The Knowledge Age means the education system needs to develop technically skilled workers that conform to the organization’s goals. But corporations also want their skilled workforce to have some critical thinking skills. For example, see the P21 literature. The education institution, however, does not teach critical thinking and falls short on many of the 21st century skills employers seek, according to P21 and other research. So why put so much social justice into the limited school day when the schools do not teach the key skills employers say they need?
The question our sleuth still needs to figure out is why upend history and re-write it while schools fail to teach key 21st century skills?
Perhaps the answer lies in a few dimensions.
First, the education institution has always been about control. It passes on values and culture to support the accepted norms. Well, acceptable to those in control. As discussed in Part 5, this is a key aspect of education. It is simply the control objectives that have changed. But they have also provided an elite education teaches critical thinking and analysis to some.
Second, there are tiers of employers. The large MNCs draw on a global workforce and can shift operations as needed. The mid-tier can do some shifting depending on the operations and skills sets required. They can also contract work out offshore. The small companies have trouble shifting operations and rely upon the local workforce.
An MNC may then have the following objectives:
- Compliant governments that do not interfere with their operations and goals.
- Low cost workforce with the right skill sets.
- Mobile operations that can shift as required by political events, costs, resources, and workforce.
- Maintain a consumer base in the wealthier countries.
- Stifle competition, especially mid-tier companies trying to move up.
The MNCs drive much of the social justice movement in two ways. First, by taking a “woke” position, they push the social justice objectives. Second, by controlling the media, they control the narrative. They push for the same objectives that the education institution pushes for with “critical education”.
The MNCs have limited stake and perhaps increasingly less loyalty to American history and society. Given their objectives and actions they apparently see American society as a group of consumers. They want compliant workers and consumers. Therefore, a government and culture based on liberty and freethinking is potentially not in their best interests. These sentiments seem to align with those of NEA and AFT. To the extent that TIAA supports the unions, as it does in the collective bargaining process.
NEA clearly supports Critical Race Theory and the 1619 Project In summer 2021, New Business Item 39 stated:
B. Provide an already-created, in-depth, study that critiques empire, white supremacy, anti-Blackness, anti-Indigeneity, racism, patriarchy, cisheteropatriarchy, capitalism, ableism, anthropocentrism, and other forms of power and oppression at the intersections of our society, and that we oppose attempts to ban critical race theory and/or The 1619 Project.
The president of the AFT vowed to defend teaching “honest history” with Critical Race Theory and the 1619 Project.
The unions and MNCs have rallied behind these efforts to re-construct US history. While rank and file members most likely seek what they see as fairness to minorities in education, the leadership and the MNCs see power and control.