ABSTRACT

Three essential ingredients can be distinguished in any effort to restructure current social reality: understanding of the existing society, a vision of the future, and a strategy for getting there. However elaborate it may be, an image of a desirable future that is not based on a critical understanding of contemporary social forces and strategically linked with social practice is merely a suggestive fantasy. Conversely, when normatively-based envisioning of possible futures is truncated or deferred – as it typically has been within twentieth century forms of thought – approaches to the future are likely to consist of either ameliorative or apocalyptic extrapolations from historical conditions, and largely expedient political tactics. In previous chapters, I have offered a critical if incomplete understanding of the character of current advanced capitalist societies and especially of educational conditions, in terms of general analyses of class relations. In the following chapter, I will make a few more general remarks about strategies for creating educational and social futures. What is presented here is basically a critical inventory of alternative images of the future that might be considered by subordinate group activists in educational and social change initiatives. First, the sorts of visions of the future that have been articulated by bourgeois and traditional intellectuals and by socialist intellectuals, respectively, are reviewed. Then some empirical assessments are offered of the images of the future held by ordinary citizens and particularly by 'rank and file' members of different class positions. Popular sentiments about the future have been largely ignored by visionary intellectuals and policy makers, bourgeois and socialist alike.