Anyone for a banana monarchy of malevolent toffs?

The sub-optimal education that I referred to at the end of the previous piece seems to include the former Brexit MEP Annunziata Rees-Mogg, sister of the Leader of the House and equally self-entitled, who has been opining on the price of potatoes and the poor.

She has received a powerful reply from none other than my favourite food writer, Jack Monroe in ‘The Price Of Potatoes And The Value Of Compassion’. This is cogent writing with wonderfully incisive verve, wit and entirely necessary bad language. I urge anyone with three or four spare minutes to read it all. And the writer herself declares no more than four and a half GCSEs.

Annunziata Rees-Mogg was the lady that declared she had been a Conservative since the age of five. In doing so she divulged that it was not deep thinking, but deep indoctrination that got her there. Indeed she seems to prove that her private education did not ever challenge her thoughts from age five.

We have a government who for the most part are highly educated – Johnson, for example, got a second from Oxford but Sunak got a first, admittedly studying our favourite subject on Progressive Pulse, PPE.

Nonetheless it has always seemed a great mystery to me how these highly educated people can be so either cruel or ignorant or stupid – or indeed all three. Then I read someone who said education is about the past – intelligence is about the future. I suggest this certainly contains an element of truth, but more importantly it suggests that our best educational institutions do not appear, in large part, to encourage or even engender critical thinking.

Maybe this is unsurprising when they are treated by government as businesses and measured, critically, by how many (typically overpaid and abstractive) jobs their graduates get.

Jobs might well be a measure for apprenticeship success.

But I suggest ‘education’ is more abstract and additional to that – and usually about ideas.

And surely those ideas make the moments of unemployment much more enjoyable.

If only to consider our banana monarchy…


  1. B. Gray -

    Among conservatives, lack of creative thinking within educational institutions is a feature, not a flaw. Modern day conservatism is based entirely on a neoliberal/nationalistic ideology that disputes any fact or data that does not support the ideology. When the facts are at odds with ideology, you simply cherry pick the data that supports, and ignore, misrepresent, or discredit the rest (see climate deniers, creationists, austerity promoters, and most recently the privatization/suppression of COVID data).

    In order to do this, you need to be anti-science and of course anti-critical thinking. The ideal education system for conservatives is one that actively discourages critical thinking and promotes indoctrination into the pro-corporate conservative ideology. This is exactly the type of influence conservatives try to wield on education (at all levels) when they are in power.

    One of the most pernicious tactics used by conservatives is to sow doubt about accepted science by insisting on presenting “both sides of an argument”, in both the media and in school curriculum under the guise of being “unbiased”. Good science and the scientific method is inherently unbiased in that it looks to rigorously test a hypothesis to either prove or disprove based on the empirical data. Any bias in the research is also discouraged through the peer review process. The “other side” of the argument has a vested interest in a differing outcome and routinely misrepresents data to serve its agenda.

    By presenting “both sides” as equally valid, while simultaneously suppressing critical thinking, conservatives can sow enough doubt in the science to all but guarantee government inaction, thereby maintaining the status quo. Government inaction may provide short term windfalls for the rich, but predictably disastrous longer term consequences for the rest of us.

    1. Chris Kitcher -

      To be brutally honest I think that we need to question the credibility of Oxford and Cambridge Universities in the non scientific curricular. When one considers the misfits and clearly incompetents that they churn out, I do consider that the Department of Education should be examining their standards and looking acutely at the awarding of. degrees for financial contributions.

    2. Peter May -

      Good point about guaranteeing government inaction…

  2. ChrisKitcher -

    Jack Monroe isa fucking marvel and deserves to see the demise of the JRM’s of this world.

  3. Schofield -

    What’s the point of a PPE at one of the country’s supposedly top universities when the teaching staff never teach how to resolve the core lessons of Hayek and Keynes in which the former says information is distributed in the marketplace therefore economies are self-equilibrating through the private sector alone and the latter says that is partially correct but that information is never perfect because of future uncertainty and government with its ability to take the long view is needed to equilibrate an economy?

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