A Worker’s Resistance to the Capitalist Government or State and Its Representatives, Part Eleven, Or: How Psychologists Cannot Deal with the Oppressive Experiences of the Working Class


This is a continuation of previous posts.

I went on sick leave in February 2012 after having been a French teacher for Lakeshore School Division in Ashern, Manitoba, Canada, for three and a half years. (For details of my decision to go on sick leave, see A Worker’s Resistance to the Capitalist Government or State and Its Representatives, Part Eight  and  A Worker’s Resistance to the Capitalist Government or State and Its Representatives, Part Nine). 

In order to receive at first short-term disability benefits and then long-term disability benefits provided by the Manitoba Teachers’ Society (MTS), if the issue is not purely physical, it is presumably necessary to be subject to psychiatric evaluation and then psychological “care” (provided the psychiatrist furnishes an assessment, I assume, that justifies not being able to work for an employer). To receive such benefits, the worker must “agree” to both the evaluation and the care. 

But what is the Manitoba Teachers’ Society? Its Facebook page indicates the following:


The Manitoba Teachers’ Society is the collective bargaining and professional development organization for all of Manitoba’s 15,000 public school teachers.

Additional information

Founded in 1919, the Society provides assistance to local associations in collective bargaining, offers professional development workshops and lobbies government on legislation that affects education, students and teachers.

As well, MTS provides a range of wellness services including the Disability Benefits Plan and Educator Assistance Program.

It also provides publication services for teacher organizations such as Special Area Groups and publishes the teachers’ newsletter, the annual handbook, annual report and an extensive range of brochures and other handbooks

MTS is thus not a union as such, but it is more like a union of unions; it provides services to specific teachers’ associaitons and, through them, to the members of the specific teachers’ association. 

Under the terms of the Manitoba Teachers’ Society Disability Benefits Plan, I had to be under the “care” of a psychologist; in Winnipeg (where I lived at the time), I was under the “care” of Alan Slusky, a clinical psychologist. In my last post, I quoted one of Mr. Alan Slusky’s summaries of his psychological assessment (see A Worker’s Resistance to the Capitalist Government or State and Its Representatives, Part Ten) and indicated how I felt oppressed by his “care.”

In part to escape Mr. Slusky’s oppressive “care,” I moved to Toronto, Ontario, Canada, at the end of August, 2013. I was still subject to control by a psychologist, this time by Silvina Galperin. Of course, I had little choice over whether I was to receive “therapy” or not.

From One Oppressive Situation to Another Oppressive Situation

Ms. Galperin, like Alan Slusky and Degen Gene (another psychologist whom I did voluntarily see while I was still working as a teacher under the Employee Assistance Plan of MTS due to the great level of oppression to which I was subject–see A Worker’s Resistance to the Capitalist Government or State and Its Representatives, Part Eight) also used “cognitive behavioural therapy” (CBT, or mindfulness) to try to “cure” me of my oppositional ways. It did not work.

I quote Ms. Galperin’s initial assessment below:

October 8th, 2014

Mr. Harris attended 5 sessions of psychotherapy with this writer. His first session was on August 29, 2014 and his last session was on September 29, 2014. He attended all the schedules sessions.

On mental status exam, Mr. Harris is a 57 year-old man of slight build appearing younger than his stated age. He wore loose clothes. His facial expression was sad and his posture slouched. He appeared tired. He made infrequent eye contact with this therapist and kept his eyes half closed. His attitude was open and cooperative with the interviewer but showed an oppositional approach towards society in general. Speech was slow and volume low, at times difficult to understand due to blurred speech. Orientation for person, place and time was unremarkable. He presented as moderately depressed. There was no indication of suicidal intent.

Mr. Harris reported feelings of disappointment, loss of interest or pleasure in normal activities, irritability, frustration even over small matters, sleep disturbances, tiredness and lack of energy, so that even small tasks seemed to demand a big effort for him. He explained that he requires resting and taking naps during the day due to lack of energy. He also explained that he suffers from anxiety and takes medication for a heart-related condition. Physical symptoms of anxiety included wobbliness in legs, heart racing, feelings of choking, difficulty breathing, abdominal discomfort and numbness or tingling. 

Mr. Harris had a very difficult childhood. His father was alcoholic and his mother was diagnosed with schizophrenia, and intermittently living in and out of psychiatric hospitals for several years. Mr. Harris witnessed at the age of 5 years old, men taking his mother out of their home in a straightjacket, which was very traumatic. He lives with his father, who was violent and disciplined him and his brother physically and using the belt. 

He reported that he worried about our society functioning and believes that all the employers exploit their employees. The client presented an emotional state of frustration and discontent, fixating on situations where he became involved with the legal system, the RCMP, his ex-wife, the Children Aid Society, and health-care professionals with whom he got involved. He feels that all these people betrayed him and therefore cannot trust in this system. Mr. Harris argued that he is a fervent Marxist and that for him Marxism is the only acceptable societal structure for humanity. 

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Fifth Edition (DSM-5) Mr. Harris meets the diagnostic criteria for Major Depressive Disorder and Other Specified Anxiety Disorder. 

Mr. Harris does not believe in the Cognitive Behavioural Therapy model. He explained that his years in university studying philosophy shaped him to question every theoretical concept. He wrote several pages challenging numerous parts of the book Feeling Good by David Burns, a widely accepted volume used by psychologists. He used a philosophical method to question each concept.

Goals for treatment included teaching Mr. Harris techniques to cope with his depression, anxiety and to challenge his generalized mistrustful beliefs about people. As the client manifested that he does not agree with the Cognitive Behavioural Therapy theory, the initial approach has been to allow the client to talk about his past difficulties, his current situation and to offer strategies to deal with specific concerns. Mr. Harris reported that talking about his difficulties with this therapist helped him to process his angst and sorrows. 

Dr. Silvina Galperin, C. Psych.

I engaged in criticism of the psychological approach by sending her some of my articles and, by coincidence, writing something that is relevant to the Covid pandemic:

Since you indicated that the article was too long, I am sending a shorter article—it is almost finished. It is part of my volunteering.

I have also rethought the issue of the report. I would like a copy of the report via email as soon as possible.

Since the issue of compassion came up, I thought that the issue of the ebola crisis would be relevant. According to the Saturday Toronto Star, the WHO reacted too slowly to the crisis because of budget cuts. Such budget cuts are endemic to the neoliberal onslaught. How many people have died needlessly because of such cuts? Where is the compassion of the ruling class and the politicians? Where is the compassion of those who talk about compassion but are blind about the need to struggle if compassion is to be really realized in this world?

Time to put Ebola into perspective (page WD3):

“But lost in the debate is something central to the future. According to many experts, the Ebola outbreak has been an entirely ‘avoidable’ crisis that can largely be traced to the impact of budget cuts. It was made possible by a series of brutal [interesting adjective] reductions—supported by the world’s industrialized [re: industrialized capitalist] countries], including Canada—to the UN’s main health organization, effectively preventing it from responding to the outbreak earlier. In addition, several countries (including Canada) cut budgets to national health institutes, which have delayed research for a vaccine.”

Typical of psychologists is how they try to reduce the concerns of individuals to purely “individual” issues. My experiences as a father are simply an extension of the common experiences of many people throughout the world.

Dewey, by the way, originally published a work on psychology (1887), when philosophy and psychology were very close. He branched out into educational philosophy (mathematical education, 1895; Dewey School, 1896-1904, How We Think (1910), Democracy and Education (1916)), logic (a work in 1903 and his magnum opus Logic: The Theory of Inquiry (1938), ethics (1908 and revised 1932), naturalistic metaphysics (Experience and Nature, 1925), politics (Public and its Problems: An Essay in Political Inquiry  (1927), art and aesthetics (Art as Experience, epistemology and linguistics (The Knowing and the Known (1949). Compared to what I have observed about the capacities, judgements and ethics of psychiatrists and psychologists, Dewey, despite his ultimately reformist position, stands far above them, theoretically and practically.


Ms. Galperin talked about compassion and forgiveness in one of the sessions. Here is my response:

Attached is the finished article from the draft.

With respect to compassion and forgiveness. Some facts (from Robert Albritton’s  Let Them Eat Junk: How Capitalism Creates Hunger and Obesity):

1. Every 30 minutes there are 360 pre-school children will die of starvation and malnutrition–about 6 million pre-school children a year.
2. The news media are generally silent about this [as are most intellectuals and other professionals].
3. What the media does report is how rising food prices are good for business in general and investment in particular.

I fail to see where the compassion exists in ignoring such statistics. The term “compassion” is, to the contrary, often used to cloak such facts. I also fail to see where “forgiveness” comes into play. To forgive such needless deaths is to be complacent about the conditions that persistently lead to such deaths.


Or again, another email:

Attached is something that I sent my 20-year old daughter some time ago. It pertains to the distribution of land in the department (equivalent to a province administratively) where Francesca studied Spanish (Antigua is the city where she studied).

The issue is: why is the distribution of land so skewed? Where is the “compassion” of people? Of the ruling class? Where is their “forgiveness”? How many people suffer because of such distribution? How many die?



Ms. Galperin had no answers to my questions–her training had prevented her from dealing with such facts. Her CBT or “mindfulness” approach itself could not deal with such human experiences. 

This “care” that could not deal at all with the actual oppressive experiences of the majority of people in this world–is it not just another form of oppression under the guise of “care?” 

What do you think? 

Critical Education Articles Placed in the Teacher Staff Lounge While I Was a Teacher, Part Sixteen: The Mechanistic Learning in Schools Versus a Democratic and Living Way of Learning

This is a continuation of a series of posts on summaries of articles, mainly on education.

When I was a French teacher at Ashern Central School, in Ashern, Manitoba, Canada, I started to place critiques, mainly (although not entirely) of the current school system. At first, I merely printed off the articles, but then I started to provide a summary of the article along with the article. I placed the summaries along with the articles in a binder (and, eventually, binders), and I placed the binder in the staff lounge.

As chair of the Equity and Justice Committee for Lakeshore Teachers’ Association of the Manitoba Teachers’ Society (MTS), I also sent the articles and summary to the Ning of the MTS (a ning is “an online platform for people and organizations to create custom social networks”).

As I pointed out in a previous post, it is necessary for the radical left to use every opportunity to question the legitimacy of existing institutions.

The attached article for the ESJ Ning is prefaced by the following:
Hello everyone,
Attached is another article I sent to the ESJ Ning. I introduced it with the following:

Richard Gibboney, author of the article,” Intelligence by Design: Thorndike versus Dewey”, argues that Thorndike’s mechanistic views on education won out over Dewey’s humanistic views. As a consequence,  the vast majority of reforms over the past half a century have not improved schools.

Thorndike’s mechanistic views of education have been implemented in schools. The author implies that teachers’ own work has been deskilled in the process. Experts are able to define what to teach, how to teach and how to assess independently of the interaction of the teacher, on the one hand, and children and adolescents on the other.

The author is certainly correct to point out that Dewey was concerned that schooling lead to the formation of democratic relations, but democracy was to be a way of life and not merely a political form of governance. The democratic way of life was to be intimately connected to the democratic control of basic processes vital for human life, such as the production of food, clothing and shelter.

Learning in schools, as the author affirms, was for Dewey to be a process of developing an attitude to learning—being motivated to learn as varying conditions warrant it (an evolutionary view); such learning could not be captured through “tests.” Thorndike, by contrast, considered learning to be subject-bound and tested within narrow limits—a feature characteristic of most modern schools.

Gibboney draws the contrast in the following manner: Thorndike considered education in the form or image of the machine whereas Dewey considered education in the form or image of life. Since modern schools have opted for Thorndike over Dewey, they have reduced the educational process to a machine process rather than a living process. For Thorndike, all quality could be reduced to quantity—and the modern school system reduces all human life to purely quantitative terms as well (see the post Critical Education Articles Placed in the Teacher Staff Lounge While I Was a Teacher, Part Fifteen: Progressive Versus Regressive Grading Systems in Schools).  

Thorndike relied on a mechanistic stimulus-response schema to explain human behaviour whereas Dewey argued that a child’s or adolescent’s aims contributed to what constituted a stimulus and thus had to be taken into account in formulating a theory of learning and putting it into practice.

Thorndike implied that tests were objective and certain; Dewey, on the other hand, considered problems to arise from uncertainty and, although solutions may be sought and realized, they were always subject to revision—an essential characteristic of the scientific method.

The author considers an evaluation of school reforms in light of two criteria, derived from Dewey’s theory and not Thorndike’s theory: 1. Do the reforms contribute to a democratic education; 2. Do the reforms lead to practice that is more intelligent by the teacher on the one hand, and children and adolescents on the other. Gibboney found only six reforms in the last half of the twentieth century that satisfy these two criteria.

Most reforms in the second half of the twentieth century have led, in fact, to a weakening of the democratic ethos even when they contributed to the intelligence of teachers, on the one hand, and children and adolescents on the other—defined in narrow, curricular terms, of course. Thorndike’s mechanistic view of education has predominated throughout schools in the last half of the twentieth century.

Gibboney—rightly—castigates teacher organizations for having remained complacent about the attack on the democratic curriculum in schools. They have largely ignored such an attack.

They have also, he implies, bought into the ideological rhetoric that school reform alone will address the needs of children and adolescents and will ensure equality of opportunity. It is poverty that leads to school failure, and no school reform will be able to compensate for the effect of poverty on school outcomes. What is needed, rather than curriculuar reform, in the first instance, is a concerted assault on child poverty.

Gibboney, however, does not really address how child poverty is to be attacked. Surely, it will require sustained struggle against those in power: internally, ranging from senior bureaucrats in the school system to principals who define learning in terms of the modern school system and, externally, ranging from elected representatives who espouse rhetoric of ending child poverty but do little to address the issue to those within the modern economic structure, who command the mass of labour of others at work—employers and their representatives.

 The rhetoric of the importance of children and adolescents is rampant in school circles. The reality is otherwise. When judged on the basis of addressing child poverty, children and adolescents are not important.

Should not those who are concerned with equity and social justice face the fact that micro solutions to macro problems will not work? Should we not be organizing to end child poverty? Should we not be struggling against those in power who oppose such a goal? Should we not fight for an end to child poverty and for a democratic way of life?

Or should we acquiesce and have the Thorndike’s of the world win out over a Deweyan vision—as occurred in the second half of the twentieth century?

What does equity and social justice demand?


Guilty Until Proven Innocent: The Real Assumption of Some Bureaucratic Tribunals, Part Four

It is supposed to be a fundamental principle of criminal law that a person is presumed innocent until proven otherwise by the State (government). This is the ideology or the rhetoric (which much of the left have swallowed). The reality is otherwise. In reality, the administrative apparatus of various organizations of the government and semi-governmental organizations assume that you are guilty first and that you have to prove your innocence; otherwise, you suffer negative consequences.

An example is the requirements that the Ontario College of Teachers imposed on me in order for me to qualify as a teacher in the province of Ontario after I moved from the province of Manitoba. To qualify as a teacher in Ontario, you must gain the approval of the Ontario College of Teachers (OCT). The OCT website explains what this organization does:


The Ontario College of Teachers licenses, governs and regulates the Ontario teaching profession in the public interest.

Teachers who work in publicly funded schools in Ontario must be certified to teach in the province and be members of the College.

The College:

  • sets ethical standards and standards of practice
  • issues teaching certificates and may suspend or revoke them
  • accredits teacher education programs and courses
  • investigates and hears complaints about members

The College is accountable to the public for how it carries out its responsibilities.

You can find the qualifications, credentials and current status of every College member at Find a Teacher.

The College is governed by a 37-member Council.

  • 23 members of the College are elected by their peers
  • 14 members are appointed by the provincial government.

To qualify as a teacher in Ontario, among other things, you have to answer a questionnaire. On the questionnaire, there are questions concerning arrest–and since I was arrested by the RCMP (the Royal Canadian Mounted Police)  (but never convicted), I was obliged to prove my innocence in various ways.

I sent, along with my explanation, a table that I had constructed concerning my experiences (and the experiences of my daughter, Francesca) with the child welfare organization Winnipeg Child and Family Services (CFS), located in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. The table that I constructed about events is a revised version (always subject to change as I gather further evidence). I will post the table gradually, in the section Publications and Writings on this blog.

Below is the answer to the final question, I believe, about additional considerations:

III. Another aspect of the issue is the clash between the principal’s views and mine.

When Randy Chartrand was principal (from 2009 to 2011), I used to place the occasional article (including my own) or other information that might be relevant to teachers on the bulletin board. Randy had no problems with these activities.

In September 2011, when Neil MacNeil became the new principal. I became the chair of the Equity and Social Justice Committee of the local teachers’ association. I sent articles and commentaries to the Manitoba Teachers’ Society Ning on Equity and Social Justice and decided to place printed copies of such material (at my own expense) in binders in the teachers’ lounge. I provide a couple of examples of such material. (the first one is on the definition of equity and social justice and another is Sarason’s article on flawed education and the summary of the article that I had provided).

One day in the fall of 2011, the Mr. MacNeil sent all teachers an article via email on brains and adolescent behaviour; he also put the same article in printed format in the teachers’ mail box (I do not have a copy). The article claimed that, due to adolescent brain structure and growth, adolescents behaved in reckless ways. Since my own understanding of the human life process is opposed to such reductionism of human nature to brains—such reduction is typical of many articles on brain research (see the accompanying article, “The Grammar of the Human Life Process: John Dewey’s new theory of language”), I researched the issue and placed an article opposing such a view (see the accompanying article, Mike Males, “Is Jumping Off the Root Always a Bad Idea?: A Rejoinder on Risk Taking and the Adolescent Brain”) and placed the article in the binder. This issue is related to clinical supervision.

In relation to the issue of clinical supervision for 2011-2012, during the consultation concerning my professional development plan, I had indicated that I would like to continue to contribute to the school through the submission of summaries of articles that I had read alongside the particular articles in question. During the consultation, the principal specifically claimed that the staff had expressed its disdain for my efforts. Since no one had approached me negatively concerning my efforts, I inferred that it was the principal who considered my efforts with disdain. I was placed once again on the clinical supervision model (on October 26). I continued to print (at my own expense) articles and summaries of the articles that I had sent to the MTS Ning and place them into a binder in the staff lounge until I went on sick leave in February 2012.

This is part of my explanation for answering “yes” in several of the questions.

Dr. Fred Harris

Critique of a Book Used by Many Psychologists and Psychiatrists to Oppress Patients, Part One


This is the first of a five-part series of posts that criticize a book that serves to oppress individuals, whether they have mental health problems or not.

As I indicated in another post (A Worker’s Resistance to the Capitalist Government or State and Its Representatives, Part Nine), I engaged in a partial critique of the book Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy by David Burns, M.D. (1999). This book is used by many psychologists and psychiatrists as a basis for the psychological technique called “mindfulness”–and with reason since Dr. Burns defines human problems independently of social context–quite convenient for the class of employers since the economic, social and political oppressive and exploitative contexts are thereby ignored–or rather suppressed.

The reason why I read the book was that I was required to see a psychologist as a condition of receiving disability benefits from the Manitoba Teachers Society (see A Worker’s Resistance to the Capitalist Government or State and Its Representatives, Part Ten). Mr. Alan Slusky, a psychologist in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, recommended the book and, in fact, it was supposed to be part of my “therapy”–bibliotherapy. According to Wikipedia:

Bibliotherapy is a creative arts therapies modality that involves storytelling or the reading of specific texts with the purpose of healing. It uses an individual’s relationship to the content of books and poetry and other written words as therapy. Bibliotherapy is often combined with writing therapy.

I refer occasionally to John Dewey’s philosophy of science, which I will look at to some extent in the fourth post but especially in the last post of this series. I also refer occasionally to my dissertation. My doctoral dissertation compared the philosophies of human nature of John Dewey (an :American philosopher of education and author of, among other books, Human Nature and Social Conduct: An Introduction to Social Psychology, Democracy and Education and Logic: The Theory of Inquiry) and Paulo Freire (a Brazilian philosopher of education and author, among other books, of Pedagogy of the Oppressed).

Critique of the Contents of the Book

Let us now turn to the contents of the book and some of my criticisms.  I do not present my criticism in the order in which I wrote it since the initial points are fairly abstract (I leave those for the fourth and fifth posts in this series). My critical comments are usually either in square brackets or separate points  as a continuation of my comments: 

    1. p.xxx: “Depression is one of the worst forms of suffering because of the immense feelings of shame, worthlessness, hopelessness and demoralization. Depression can seem worse than terminal cancer, because most cancer patients feel loved and they have hope and self-esteem. Many depressed patients have told me, in fact, that they yearned for death and that they prayed every night that they would get cancer, so they could die in dignity without having to commit suicide.”

    2. P. 9: “In fact, depression is so widespread it is considered the common cold of psychiatric disturbances.” [Would that not be evidence of a social problem for a scientist? Would not even the lay person who is curious wonder why it is so common?]

    3. Page 10: Note: “The idea that thinking patterns can profoundly influence your moods has been described by a number of philosophers [why did he not name a few?] in the past 2500 years. More recently, the cognitive view of emotional disturbances has been explored in the writings of many psychiatrists and psychologists including Alfred Adler, Albert Ellis, Karen Horney, and Arnold Lazarus, to name just a few. A history of this movement has been described in Ellis, A., Reason and Emotion in Psychotherapy.”

    4. Page 11: “2. Understanding: A clear understanding of why you get moody and what you can do to change your moods. You will learn what causes your powerful feelings; how to distinguish “normal” from “abnormal” emotions; and how to diagnose and assess the severity of your upsets.”

    5. Page 11: Self-control: You will learn how to apply safe and effective coping strategies that will make you feel better whenever you are upset. … As you apply it, your moods can come under greater voluntary control.

    6. Page 12: “The first principle of cognitive therapy is that all your moods are created by your “cognitions,” or thoughts. … You feel the way you do because of the thoughts that you are thinking in this moment. [One of the categories that he uses is “overgeneralization.” Here is a good example of overgeneralization. What is a thought? What is a feeling? What is the relationship between the two? Do feelings cause thoughts? What is the specific causal mechanism that leads from thoughts to feelings? What narrative structure, in conjunction with the descriptive structure? Furthermore, the “self” of human beings is constituted by a set of ways of acting, which are linked to how others act. Money. A set of habits is generally unconscious until a problem arises.] [Which came first? Thoughts or feelings in the process of evolution?]

    7. You create those feelings [feelings are products of the self—the environment plays no part for Burns. The subject of the action of creating feelings is “you”—apparently, you do not consist of feelings—they arise out of thin air. You are feelingless, and the feelings then are magically produced by something completely different from the feelings—thoughts.” Does Burns explain anywhere how people create feelings? Unlikely. This is mysticism, not science, or rather it is mysticism parading as science. How do thoughts “create” feelings? What is the difference between thoughts and feelings?] by the dialogue you are having with this book. [Presentation of the individual self as purely internal. There is no relation to an environment. Feelings are purely internal as are thoughts. But if both are purely internal, are they not the same in some way? This is idealist—and subjective idealism at that—by reducing the individual to purely internal processes. Anti-evolutionary.] [Burns is inferior to anything that Dewey has to offer. Burns assumes the “you” without inquiring into what he means by the “you” Does he mean the person or the body? The formation of the human person? If the “you” is itself a social process that has its focal point in an individual who becomes conscious of processes between the environment and the living being, then this “you” is itself a product and a cause. This one-sided reduction of the “you” to pure thought cannot begin to grasp the complexity of the nature of human beings. Burns does not even reflect on the use of his terms—a lack of critical thinking.]

    8. If “you” are a product of a social process, what then is the relation between the “individual” and the “social”? Burns does not even try to determine the relation since he reduces human nature to the isolated individual who is already formed—and assumes that this isolated individual is the point of departure.

    9. He assumes, in effect, that the human individual is a formed individual, and simply ignores the environmental conditions that contribute to the construction of the “you.”

    10. From Burns’ point of view, prehistoric people merely had to change their way of thinking and they would be like us.

    11. Is not the “you”—and thoughts and feelings—linked to the kind of society in which we live? Would Burns have the you that he does without the Gutenberg press?

    12. Your emotional reaction is generated not by the sentences you are reading but by the way you are thinking. Your thought actually creates the emotion. [creates? How? There is an organic aspect to all reactions, and that organic aspect, when grounded in the cns (central nervous system), can be called feeling. Feeling becomes emotion (something with an object attached to it. Feeling has organic roots and is quite independent of “thought.” Let us see whether this “scientist” explains how thought “creates ”emotion.”]Thought does not create emotion; it is a necessary condition for emotion to arise, but then so too is the environment. This person is an idealist and so too is his theory—despite the “scientific research” he claims. As for science, if thoughts “cause” feelings—in a real scientific sense and not in his pseudo-scientific conception of science, then he should be able to link up the “cause” with the “effect” in one narrative structure such that the beginning and the end form a history. See my dissertation.]

    13. The second principle is that when you are feeling depressed, your thoughts are dominated by a pervasive negativity.” Really? Such a generalization independent of context? His principle must be a physical principle since only physic-chemical principles are universal. Even if it were true—and? The implication is that “negativity” is an unreasonable or unjustifiable response to conditions. Such an assumption is unjustifiable. See the article on justifiable depression.] Social science that pretends to be universal is ideological—except for a few generalities that cannot grasp any definite, concrete relation (cannot exist independently of determinate, concrete relations).

    14. p. 13: “This feeling is absolutely illogical, but it seems so real that you have convinced yourself that your inadequacy will go on forever.” [Does this person live on this planet? There are many individuals who live in hopeless situations. How many children die each year throughout the world from malnutrition and starvation? Should their parents not be depressed? Has he ever experienced depression? This “scientist” becomes ever more pompous and lacks any depth of understanding of what people in this world experience.] [In any case, his statement that it is “absolutely illogical” is itself illogical. No rational scientist would make such a categorical statement independently of circumstances. [Watched a movie recently called “Guilty,” in French. The man was accused falsely of sexual abuse; he was imprisoned; his children were taken away from him (his children were his life); his wife eventually was let go, but she began seeing another man. His mother died while he was in prison. He stayed in prison for almost two years. Despite the recantation of the woman who accused him of sexual abuse, the judges condemned him to 18 months of probation. He tried to kill himself several times. Was it his negative thoughts that led to his depressed feelings? Was it the total situation? “Negative thoughts” may be a contributing determinant of depression, but to reduce depression to just this aspect is a fallacy—a fallacy of reducing a total process and situation to one event within the process or one aspect of it.]

    15. P.13: “The third principle is of substantial philosophical and therapeutic importance. Our research has documented that the negative thoughts which cause your emotional turmoil nearly always contain gross distortion. [Why the emphasis on “always.” Obviously because negative feelings have no real basis—always. But what happens if they do have a basis in reality, but that Burns and company have neglected to determine this in a scientific manner? Do they consider the context in which people live? That is to say, the environment? Or do they act like pre-evolutionary scientists and pretend that human beings are isolated monads, cut off from their environment?] [Who determines what constitutes gross distortions? Burns has such a grip on reality that he does not live in a distorted world? If capitalist society is by its very nature a distorted world, then what are the implications, psychologically?] Although these thoughts appear valid, you will learn that they are irrational or just plain wrong and that twisted thinking is a major cause of your suffering.” [If so many people have twisted thoughts—at the beginning, Burns claims that depression is like the common cold for psychiatrists since it is so prevalent a problem for them, then is not the educational system a possible cause for such twisted thinking? Is not education supposed to teach people how to think? See John Dewey, How We Think: A Restatement of the Relation of Reflective Thinking to the Education Process—the need for reflective thinking (not rationalism as usually defined as pure reason independently of context. Would it not be rational for a person who finds that depression is common to inquire into the conditions of its emergence? But Burns has the magic answer in his cap—negative thoughts. Why so many people have negative thoughts never enters his “scientific” mind, which seems to involve a curious lack of desire to inquire into anything that may contradict his theory. If schools contribute to the lack of a capacity to think, then individual solutions of “changing” thoughts will not do. Burns will have none of that, of course.] [It can be concluded that Burns’ theory ‘nearly always contain[s] great distortions.]

    16. : “Some of the major symptoms include… the conviction that external forces are controlling your mind or body….” [There are—necessarily—in a society characterized by commodity production—a lack of control over forces that determine our body and mind.]

Guilty Until Proven Innocent: The Real Assumption of Some Bureaucratic Tribunals, Part Three

This is a continuation of a previous post

It is supposed to be a fundamental principle of criminal law that a person is presumed innocent until proven otherwise by the State (government). This is the ideology or the rhetoric (which much of the left have swallowed). The reality is otherwise. In reality, the administrative apparatus of various organizations of the government and semi-governmental organizations assume that you are guilty first and that you have to prove your innocence; otherwise, you suffer negative consequences.

An example is the requirements that the Ontario College of Teachers imposed on me in order for me to qualify as a teacher in the province of Ontario after I moved from the province of Manitoba. To qualify as a teacher in Ontario, you must gain the approval of the Ontario College of Teachers (OCT). The OCT website explains what this organization does:


The Ontario College of Teachers licenses, governs and regulates the Ontario teaching profession in the public interest.

Teachers who work in publicly funded schools in Ontario must be certified to teach in the province and be members of the College.

The College:

  • sets ethical standards and standards of practice
  • issues teaching certificates and may suspend or revoke them
  • accredits teacher education programs and courses
  • investigates and hears complaints about members

The College is accountable to the public for how it carries out its responsibilities.

You can find the qualifications, credentials and current status of every College member at Find a Teacher.

The College is governed by a 37-member Council.

  • 23 members of the College are elected by their peers
  • 14 members are appointed by the provincial government.

To qualify as a teacher in Ontario, among other things, you have to answer a questionnaire. On the questionnaire, there are questions concerning arrest–and since I was arrested by the RCMP (the Royal Canadian Mounted Police)  (but never convicted), I was obliged to prove my innocence in various ways.

I sent, along with my explanation, a table that I had constructed concerning my experiences (and the experiences of my daughter, Francesca) with the child welfare organization Winnipeg Child and Family Services (CFS), located in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

The table that I constructed about events is a revised version (always subject to change as I gather further evidence or order it better). I posted it earlier (see  A Personal Example of the Oppressive Nature of  Public Welfare Services).

Below is the second and third parts of the answer to the second question (relating to whether i was fired)

II. Issues about my teaching ability. This issue needs to be broken into three parts: the issue of my competency as a senior-high French teacher, my competency as a middle-years French teacher before my assignment as a glorified educational assistant in September 2011 and my competency as a middle-years French teacher during the period from September 2011 to February 2012.


Middle-years French: Earlier, I had undoubtedly some difficulties in this area—especially classroom management issues. Many students simply did not want to learn French, and I had to teach it. Since I philosophically disagreed with forcing students to learn something that they found useless and resisted whenever they could, I did my best in a bad situation. That some students hated French was obvious—and understandable.

Nonetheless, despite this bad situation, when the principal, Randy Chartrand, evaluated me in November 2010, his assessment was generally favourable (see the accompanying evaluation).


By the time I started school in September 2011, my heart was already pounding occasionally. Being assigned the role of educational assistant to one special-needs grade nine student in power mechanics for the morning (the school was on the Copernican system of quarterly terms, with two classes per day for senior-high students) was humiliating. Given that many students already knew that I had a doctorate, they undoubtedly would be wondering why I was assigned the role of educational assistant. Given that Ashern has only a population of about 1,400, so too would the community. I did not find any place where I could really relax.

I still taught the afternoon middle-years French classes. However, it was clear that the principal (and the superintendent) wanted me to resign. Evidence of this, in addition to my assignment to one special-needs student in September was the situation that I faced as a middle-years French teacher at the beginning of September, 2011, I did not know where I was to teach middle-year French at first. Furthermore, once I was assigned a classroom for middle-years French, it was where the foods and nutrition teacher taught her classes—hardly the ideal environment for teaching middle-years French. It was the only classroom where there were still chalkboards rather than whiteboards. Furthermore, Zumba classes were often held at noon in the classroom so that I had little time to set up for the class.

In October 2011, my heart was pounding to such an extent that I consulted a medical doctor to determine whether there had been any physiological damage. An EKG showed that there was no rhythmic problems at least. I received some medication to reduce the pounding, but the pounding continued.

On October 26, the new principal, the superintendent, an MTS representative and I had a meeting. It was at this meeting that I was obliged to undergo clinical supervision again (see below for a possible explanation for such a condition—and not my so-called incompetence as a teacher).

This entire situation undoubtedly affected some aspects of my teaching ability—in one classroom, mainly, where I had increasing problems of dealing with the students’ behaviour and lack of engagement. The small class with which I had particular problems found French boring. I tried to make it “interesting,” but obviously failed in that effort. I had had four of the students in previous French classes, and only one made any real effort to learn French. I had contacted the parents often for the other students, but this led nowhere.

Furthermore, I had increasing problems with classroom management in that class. The situation deteriorated further in that classroom from January 2011 onwards. The students, when they often refused to do something that I wanted them to do, would complain to the principal. At one point, the principal called me into his office concerning their complaints that I was instituting detention because of their lack of compliance with my requests (and I personally find detention to be purely punitive and hardly educative, but I was expected to control their behaviour, so I instituted detention against my own philosophical beliefs). I felt my hands were tied. When the students continued to disobey me, I did blurt out at one point, “Why do you not tell the principal to have me fired.” This assertion undoubtedly led to the February meeting with the principal, the superintendent, an MTS representative and me (although nothing was specifically said about this incident).

At the February meeting, the superintendent mentioned that due to my cancer and the arrest, intensive supervision would be necessary. The superintendent indicated that I would receive various supports in order to enable me to attain the teaching standard expected of me. Since my interpretation of the intent of placing me on intensive supervision was an extension of the control expressed in assigning me to be an educational assistant and assigning me to an inappropriate environment for learning French—especially in the middle years—I spoke to a member of the EAP program of MTS (I had been seeing him since October 2011), who suggested that I go on sick leave. This is what I did.

I was not fired, but the conditions in which I was working were already difficult. I then met with a representative of the Manitoba Teachers’ Society and the lawyer for the MTS. The lawyer informed me that I could grieve the requirement that I be placed on intensive supervision (the issue was grievable under Manitoba law), but I would still have to undergo the intensive supervision while the grievance was being processed, up to and including arbitration. Since I came to the conclusion that I had no further desire to work for that division, I resigned.

In any case, I was neither a great French teacher, nor the inept teacher that the principal made me out to be (see the accompanying combined report by the principal and my reply. The representative from MTS indicated that he thought that the report reflected badly—on the principal. He helped me edit it so that it was 30 pages in length (but unfortunately I do not have a copy of that report). [I subsequently found a copy of the report, which I have included in another series of posts.]

This is part of my explanation for answering “yes” in several of the questions.

Note that the Ontario College of Teachers presumed that a question of the firing of an employee requires the employee to justify her/himself and not the employer. The default judgement of semi- and governmental departments is that the employer makes legitimate judgements, and the (ex) employee has to justify her/himself in view of such judgments.

The social-democratic or social-reformist left, however, rarely even acknowledge this fact. Even the radical left (or what appears to be the radical left, often enough) fail to take such common experiences of the working class when they formulate their “strategies.” Thus, they are often blind to the need for persistent ideological struggle against this default view of the capitalist state.

Critical Education Articles Placed in the Teacher Staff Lounge While I Was a Teacher, Part Twelve: The Mondragon Educational System

This is a continuation of a series of posts on summaries of articles, mainly on education.

When I was a French teacher at Ashern Central School, in Ashern, Manitoba, Canada, I started to place critiques, mainly (although not entirely) of the current school system. At first, I merely printed off the articles, but then I started to provide a summary of the article along with the article. I placed the summaries along with the articles in a binder (and, eventually, binders), and I placed the binder in the staff lounge.

As chair of the Equity and Justice Committee for Lakeshore Teachers’ Association of the Manitoba Teachers’ Society (MTS), I also sent the articles and summary to the Ning of the MTS (a ning is “an online platform for people and organizations to create custom social networks”).

As I pointed out in a previous post, it is necessary for the radical left to use every opportunity to question the legitimacy of existing institutions.

The attached article for the ESJ Ning is prefaced by the following:

The authors of the following article [Christopher Meek and Warner Woodworth], “Technical Training and Enterprise: Mondragon’s Educational System and its Implications for other Cooperatives,” outlines the importance of the educational system for the success of the Mondragon cooperative system in the Basque region of Northern Spain.

There are two key components to the Mondragon educational system: the Escuela Politecnica Profesional (EPP) and Alecoop (a student-owned manufacturing firm). The EPP has provided the basis for the development of highly advanced engineering skills, and Alecoop has provided the basis for students applying emerging engineering  and managerial skills to real-life problems in the context of running a company that aids them to finance their own education.

The ideal of an egalitarian social and economic system has not led to a sacrifice of concerns for efficiency. Both are possible.

The roots of the Mondragon cooperative system lie in the extreme class division characteristic of the town, with a wealthy minority and a poor majority. Despite the level of poverty, the production of quality steel characterized the town. So too did a common language (the Basque language of Euskera) and social solidarity.

Don José Maria Arizmendiarrieta, priest and founder of the Mondragon cooperatives, arrived in Mondragon in 1941, when the fascist dictator Franco was in power. Some considered Arizmendiarreta to be a communist.

Arizmendiarrieta was asked by the Union Cerrajera to teach religion at the only school available for working-class youth, the Escuela de Aprendices. However, Arizmendiarrieta soon realized the inadequacy of the school. On the one hand, access was limited to the sons of the employees of the capitalist firm (excluding about 85 percent of eligible youth) and, on the other and, on the other, no son from the working class ever attended university. Arizmendiarrieta attempted to persuade the Union Cerrajera to open up the school to more youth, but the capitalist firm refused.

Arizmendiarrieta then initiated the establishment of an alternative school, with a proposal to tie the establishment of such a school to the buidling of a soccer field—tying the school to community interest.

Arizmendiarrieta initiated a technical school rather than a traditional liberal arts school because he considered the impoverished parents and students would do better to learn practical skills that would aid them to overcome their poverty. He also considered manual labour could be a dignified practice in the context of a cooperative organization. Technical skills, the dignity of the practical arts and principles of democratic social cooperation (economic democracy) formed key elements of the Mondragon cooperative system; social justice was linked to all three elements.

Emphasis on technical skills involved investment in machinery rather than limiting production to labour-intensive processes typical of many workers’ cooperatives. To incorporate technical skills into the production process, education that respected the importance of the practical arts and theoretical considerations linked to those practical arts became necessary.

The Spanish technical system of education is organized into three levels: 1. “Oficialia,” leading to an equivalent of middle-years education; 2. “Maestria,” which consists of traditional academic courses with, however, the capacity to engage in skilled technical work linked to electricity, electronics and mechanics; 3. “Perritos Industriales,” the equivalent of a bachelors degree in engineering and mechanics. EPP expanded as the number of students increased. In 1953, the Escuela Politecnica Popular (EPP) was established.

By 1947, 11 of the original students started the advanced stage of technical education. Dissatified with the way Union Cerrajera contradicted the principles that they had learned, in 1956, Ulgo, a cooperative manufacturing company, was established by five of the 11 original graduates of “Perritos Industriales.” They obtained funding from the community through word-of-mouth. Several other manufacturing cooperatives were initiated and so was a consumer cooperative.

In 1959, the Caja Laboral Popular, the “Working Peoples’ Bank,” was founded, aiding workers to establish other cooperatives. By 1987, it had aided in funding almost 200 cooperative organizations throughout the Basque region of Norther Spain.

The EPP was reorganized as a student cooperative that functioned for the industrial cooperatives. The General Assembly of the EPP is composed of three sets of stakeholders: 1. Students and parents; 2. the teachers; and 3. the cooperative and capitalist firms that subsidize the EPP budget. Due to expansion, more modern facilities were built in 1966, with workshops and laboratories.

The teachers at EPP are responsible for the creation of their own curriculum and write their own textbooks. Graduates of the EPP are highly skilled and in high demand. In the 1978/1979 school year, it had over a thousand students enrolled in the three levels of technical education.

The other piece of Mondragon education is Alecoop. About half of those attending EPP apply their learning to an actual manufacturing environment owned by students—Alecoop. It permits a closer alignment of theory and practice (and practice and theory)—and enables students to fund at least partially their own education. It was established in 1966. Alecoop struggled to continue to exist as it faced many problems. By about 1987 it had 601 students and 33 teachers.

As the authors conclude, education has been a key element in the success and expansion of the Mondragon cooperative system. Such an education is integrated in numerous ways: technical, academic, financial and managerial education are closely linked to the principles of economic democracy and the dignity of workers. Unlike many other cooperative movements, managers in the Mondragon cooperatives share the same vision with the other workers and teachers—rather than imposing their own vision on the workers and teachers. The unity of an educational strategy, linked to technical education and financial education on the one hand, and a cooperative economic principle on the other enabled the Mondragon cooperative system not only to survive but to thrive.

Rather than relying on experts, a cooperative system would be more effective if it relied on an internal analysis of local needs and values and then develop an educational plan. Experts, government agencies and so forth could then be consulted on ways in which the educational plan could be realized. A cooperative monitoring system would ensure that objectives are being met (or modified as required, depending on unforseen circumstances), costs are controlled and the cooperatived system expanded.

Democratic control of the economy (social justice) and the respect for persons can be combined with technical and financial education and efficiency—in a cooperatively organized economic system.


A Worker’s Resistance to the Capitalist Government or State and Its Representatives, Part Nine


This is a continuation of a previous post that illustrates how politically biased the capitalist government or state and its representatives (such as social-democratic social workers) are when it comes to determining real situations–especially when a person self-declares as a Marxist.

Just a recap (more details can be found in earlier posts in this series): I filed a complaint with the Manitoba Institute of Registered Workers against a social worker who had written a court-ordered assessment concerning my wife at the time, myself and my daughter, Francesca Alexandra Romani (ne Harris). I am using the initials S.W. for the social worker. Mr. S.W., claimed that my claim that the mother of my daughter was using a belt and a wooden stick to physically abuse her, was “somewhat ridiculous.” Mr. S.W. was much less concerned about determining the truth of this claim (which is in fact true) than with my so-called indoctrination of my daughter in my “Marxist ideology.”

Since the civil trial in April 1999, my daughter complained of the following  (as of February 18, 2000—it should be noted that the following does not include the many times Francesca told me that Francesca’s mother had hit her before Feburary 18, 2000): 1. Her mother was using a wooden stick on her buttocks; 2. Her mother used a belt to spank her on the same area; 3. Her mother grabbed Francesca and forced her into the apartment building; 4. Her mother had grabbed Francesca’s throat in the elevator and warned her not to tell me that her mother had hit her; 5. Her mother shoved Francesca to the floor on two separate occasions; 6. Her mother hit Francesca on the head with a book; 7. Her mother pulled Francesca’s hair; 8. Her mother scratched Francesca with a comb.

This contrasts with Mr. S.W.’s allegation, as noted in the last post, that ” Mr. Harris’ explanation for contacting the Agency [Winnipeg Child and Family Services] was somewhat ridiculous. He said that the child had made some vague indications that she may have been spanked.”

Mr. S.W. was much less concerned about the truthfulness of Mr. Harris’ claim (which is true) than with Mr. Harris’ Marxists ideas.

The Manitoba Institute of Registered Social Workers rejected my complaint, claiming that Mr. S.W. did not contravene the code of ethics of registered social workers in Manitoba.

I then filed a complaint against Winnipeg Child and Family Services (WCFS) with the Manitoba Ombudsman, and during their so-called inquiry, the WCFS threatened me in a letter with consulting their legal counsel and phoning the police on me. The Manitoba Ombudsman found the actions of the WCFS to be reasonable both before the letter and the letter itself: 

Our office has investigated the concerns you raised and have concluded that the position taken by WCFS as outlined in their letters of January 13, 2003 and January 22, 2004 is not clearly wrong or unreasonable. Accordingly there is no recommendation that can be made on your behalf.

So far, the Winnipeg Child and Family Services, the Manitoba Institute of Registered Social Workers and the Manitoba Ombudsman proved themselves to be anything but institutions that reflected any kind of fairness or equitable treatment. Quite to the contrary. They either involved oppression in one form or another or justification of such oppression by vindicating an oppressive institution. 

The social-democratic left rarely take this integrated nature of the oppressive powers linked to the capitalist government or state into account when formulating tactics and strategy. Indeed, many on the left even idealize such oppressive features by calling for, without qualification, the expansion of public services–as if such public services were not riveted with oppressive features. 

I then outlined how I tried to homeschool my daughter, how I failed my daughter by acting as an oppressive father and teacher while trying to teach at Ashern Central High and finish my doctorate in the philosophy of education; this included getting into many arguments over her lack of progress in her studies and physically controlling her when she threw a metal lid at me by putting her in a headlock and forcing her to the ground until she promised not to threw anything else (which I do not regret since she could have seriously injured me). It also included throwing hot tea, some of which hit her face. I also indicated that a mitigating factor was that I had, unknown to me at the time, invasive bladder cancer, but with chemotherapy treatment there was no further visible cancer.

I then indicated how the Anishinaabe Child and Family Services, located in Ashern, engaged in oppressive actions by falsely accusing me of choking Francesca and throwing her to the ground and forced me to inform the principal, Randy Chartrand, that I was under investigation. I also pointed out how the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (the RCMP–the national police in Canada) had me under surveillance before arresting me for allegedly physically abusing Francesca. Finally, I described the oppressive working situation that I experienced at Ashern Central School, in Ashern, Manitoba, Canada, and I outlined how I came to be receiving short-term and then long-term disability benefits.

Going on Sick Leave, Short-term Disability and Long-Term Disability: Another Form of Oppression 

I mentioned to the math teacher that I was to be put on intensive clinical supervision (where the superintendent, Janet Martell, would control my work); the math teacher suggested that I go on sick leave. However, given my former experience with cancer, I did not have sufficient number of accumulated sick days that would bridge the time from the beginning of sick leave until long-term disability benefits started (a period of 80 working days). Coincidentally, short-term disability benefits had been recently negotiated so that Lakeshore Teachers’ Association members would be eligible for short-term disability benefits provided that they worked at least one day after the start of the policy (March 1, 2012)–which was later than when I started my sick leave.

MTS and Lakeshore School Division made a deal; if I agreed to resign from the school division, the school division would allow me to work one day in order to qualify for short-term disability benefits. I worked at the board office on March 23, 2012, performing a superficial search for information for the Division (I forget the details of the work)–another humiliating experience.

In order to receive at first short-term disability benefits and then long-term disability benefits provided by the Manitoba Teachers’ Society, if the issue is not purely physical, it is presumably necessary to be subject to psychiatric evaluation in order to justify not being able to work for an employer. To receive such benefits, the worker must “agree” to the evaluation.

I also was to have an initial “psychiatric assessment”, performed by Gisele Morier, a psychiatrist at PsychHealth at the Health Sciences Centre, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.. This was on March 15, 2012. I also was obliged to begin to see a psychologist–Alan Slusky.

Adelle Field Burton also obliged me to engage in voluntary work, progressively, once half-a-day per week at first, increasing it as time went on. Since I depended economically on disability benefits, if I had refused to “volunteer,” I would have jeopardized my receiving such benefits since one of the conditions for receiving such benefits was cooperation with a plan for rehabilitation. The term “volunteer” in this context, of course, is an oxymoron.

I decided to “volunteer” at Social Planning Council of Winnipeg, a social-democratic organization that addresses poverty issues. The organization evidently functioned on the basis of defining poverty exclusively on the basis of the level of income. It had no intention of addressing the problem of the power of employers as a class. 

Near the end of November, 2012, I had to have a reassessment–again by Gisele Morier. However, several months before the assessment ,Francesca, my daughter, was in another city north of Winnipeg (Arborg, I believe), with a friend (Katy Corder, I believe). Francesca’s heart apparently started to race, so she went to the local hospital with her friend. I do not know exactly what happened, but she (or someone else) called me, indicating that she was at the psychiatric ward for minors, located in the same building as Ms. Morier, who had her office there. Apparently, the hospital doctor in Arborg wanted Francesca to stay for tests, but Francesca refused. The upshot was that an RCMP officer forced her to go to Winnipeg and was placed in the psychiatric ward for the night (probably at the Intensive Child and Adolescent Treatment Service (ICATS) at the Health Sciences Centre (HSC)).

There was a meeting of many adults, to make a decision whether Francesca was to be released from the psychiatric ward or not–an oppressive situation for Francesca. I was invited to attend, which I did. I advocated for Francesca’s release, which is what happened.

When I was to have a meeting with Giselle Morier for my own assessment on November 29, 2012, I was still upset at having my daughter forced into a psychiatric ward against her will. I indicated this to Ms. Morier. She evidently found my “attitude” of questioning the authority of psychiatrists and other government “experts” to be non-plus.

Ms. Morier’s assessment was. like the court-ordered assessment in 1998, biased and full of distortions and unsubstantiated judgements. Thus, Ms. Morier considered that I suffered from “paranoid personality disorder.” Her evidence? Mainly my account of what transpired at Ashern as well as her own distorted interpretation about what I said.

Response to an Oppressive Psychiatric Assessment

Here is my response to the psychiatric assessment:

Context: An interview of Dr. Harris (Ph. D. in the philosophy of education, with four publications) by Dr. Morier on March 15, 2012.  Another interview on November 29, 2012.

Dr. Morier, in her report dated December 18, 2012 (based on an interview with Dr. Harris neglects to include how the interview started). 

Before the interview began, Dr. Morier requested that Dr. Harris sign a permission form.

Dr. Harris indicated that he did not want to sign it but that he had to if he was to continue receiving disability benefits through Manitoba Teachers’ Society. Dr. Morier immediately stated, in a tone that Dr. Harris found offensive, that he was free to sign it or not do so. When Dr. Harris replied that he disagreed with her but that he did not wish to get into a debate with her, she replied, in an offensive manner, that Dr. Harris would probably win since he knew how to debate. The way that Dr. Morier stated this was not meant as a complement.

Dr. Harris leaves it to the reader to decide whether the above is true.

Page 1 from the December 18, 2012 report:

“When asked whether he had noted any inaccuracies or had found discrepancies in what the writer had understood and reported from what he had stated or had any comments, he stated there were no errors, but that he objected to the term `paranoid’ being used to describe him.”

Dr. Morier reiterates this view on page 5:

“I refer the reader to my IME of March 28, 2012 for family and psychosocial history, as according to Mr. Harris, he did not find any errors or needed to make any correction to the information.”

This is untrue. Dr. Morier asked whether Dr. Harris had read the report, and Dr. Harris indicated that he had. The issue came up in the context of whether Dr. Morier had provided written recommendations about medication. Dr. Harris did not recall any such written recommendations in the report itself. He did recall Dr. Morier writing the recommendations on one of her business cards.

Dr. Morier then consulted the report and indicated that she indeed had provided such recommendations.

Dr. Harris did not say that there were no errors in the previous report; Dr. Morier never asked Dr. Harris such a question. There were errors in the previous report, but Dr. Harris simply did not bother to correct such errors—he did not believe that any purpose would be served at the time. He now sees that he was in error.

As for the issue of paranoid, Dr. Harris never indicated that he objected to such a term because Dr. Harris does not recall that such a term was in the first report. Dr. Harris no longer has a copy of the report. He was rear-ended in a car accident on July 20, 2011, and Dr. Morier’s report was in the trunk. Dr. Harris did not bother trying to pull out several papers from the trunk (he had to use a pry bar from the inside to gain access to the contents in the trunk since the trunk would not open from the outside). One of those papers was Dr. Morier’s previous report. Dr. Harris left the report in the trunk since he did not consider that report to be all that important when he delivered the car to Manitoba Public Insurance.

Since Dr. Harris no longer has a copy of the report, he can only recall one element from the first report that was “in error.” Dr. Harris had previous heart palpitations when he was a union steward in British Columbia. As a union steward, he filed a union grievance against his immediate supervisor for having written a job description that only personnel in the library where he was working could fulfill since only those who had job training in the specific library could obtain the specified skills. Since a job posting is supposed to be for all union members as far as possible, and since the rewriting of job descriptions to suit managerial will could, potentially, undermine the union as a viable structure, the union business manager agreed with Mr. Harris (Dr. Harris did not obtain his doctorate until afterwards) that a union grievance should be filed. Of course, Mr. Harris’ immediate supervisor did not like this and harassed Mr. Harris. As a consequence, Mr. Harris was subject to substantial pressure to resign, which he eventually did. Dr. Morier, however, failed to understand the situation and her first report reflects such a lack of understanding. If Dr. Harris recollects correctly, Dr. Morier personalized the issue in British Columbia rather than contextualized it in the context of the employer-employee relation (a relation of power). Dr. Morier persistently ignores context.

Dr. Harris would never have said that the first report was without error. It is untrue. Dr. Harris leaves it to the reader to determine which version is true and which version is false.

“She [Francesca, my daughter] was released the following day after being evaluated by a psychiatrist.” Dr. Morier either does not know or chooses to ignore the fact that there was a meeting of about nine adults, including Dr. Harris, a social worker from Child and Family Services and several others. After some discussion, Dr. Harris stated: “To sum up, this should not have happened.” No one contradicted him. Dr. Harris informed Dr. Morier that he had stated that the incident should not have happened.

“Mr. Harris appeared exceedingly angered and insulted by this. He states that both his daughter and his mother were abused by the psychiatric system.”

Dr. Harris’ mother was forced to undergo electric shock treatments against her will, forced to take so-called medication against her will and so forth. Perhaps Dr. Morier could explain what a rational person would feel when a person whom they love has been abused—unless of course psychiatric care in so-called mental institutions in the 1960s could not be characterized as an abuse. If they were not an abuse, why not reinstitute them?

As for Dr. Harris’ daughter, no one at the meeting indicated why Dr. Harris’ daughter was involuntarily incarcerated. Apparently, Dr. Harris should trust in the judgement of those in “authority”—because they are in authority—rather than in terms of understanding a situation. Why was his daughter incarcerated against her will? What damage did that do to his daughter? If a private person did that, it would be considered abuse and kidnapping. However, if the government does that, why is it is considered to be legitimate by some? Is this the attitude of a scientist? Dr. Harris leaves it to the reader to decide on Dr. Morier’s degree of understanding of the situation and the right of a parent to be angry when parent or child is possibly mistreated at the hands of “authority.” Until Dr. Harris knows the facts, he will presume his daughter’s innocence.

Furthermore, given the quality of Dr. Morier’s report, the reader can surmise the possible quality of care that Dr. Harris’ mother and daughter received.

Page 1:

“He was `well aware of their game.’”

This quote is out of context and therefore distorts the meaning. By decontextualizing the statement—which Dr. Harris did indeed make—Dr. Morier distorts its meaning. The context was in terms of his life in Ashern—a town of 1,400, where he was arrested on April 4, 2011 (by two members of the RCMP personnel in Ashern), with the charges dropped on November 16, 2011. Dr. Harris was arrested on a Monday. Since September 2008, Dr. Harris had a habit, on Saturdays, of going to the bakery/coffee shop at 12:30 in this small town, to read the Saturday Free Press and have a coffee and sticky bun and then study or do some work for his profession as a teacher until around 2:30. He would sit at the same table near the window every time (unless, of course, there were other customers who were already sitting there).

The RCMP never once sat across from Dr. Harris—until Arpil 9, 2011 the Saturday following the arrest). The father of one of Dr. Harris’ former French students was in plain clothes, but there were two other RCMP officers in RCMP uniforms seated with him. They arrived about a half hour after Dr. Harris arrived.

The same thing occurred the following Saturday, but this time the father was dressed in RCMP uniform—along with a couple of other RCMP personnel.

Dr. Harris was referring to this situation when he made the comment that he “was well aware of their game.”

Page 2:

“He chooses to eat take-out chicken two to three times a week in his car, which he parks at the same location on a public street. He believe that someone complained about this behaviour, reporting him to the police. He stated that late one night police came knocking at his door, which he did not answer. They left a City of Winnipeg Police business card, asking him to phone the police about an incident. He remembers his heart pounding.”

Dr. Morier neglected to mention that they arrived at the place where Dr. Harris was staying—at 11:45 p.m. (when, in fact, he was in bed and doing his breathing exercises as suggested by Dr. Slusky). She also neglected to mention that they flashed their lights in the window—a tactic which the RCMP also used in Ashern (in addition to stomping in the snow so that Dr. Harris would look out the window—in which case they would know Dr. Harris was there.)

Dr. Morier also neglected to mention that Dr. Harris had called the police at the number on the card left by the police the next day, but no one returned the call despite the fact that Dr. Harris left his telephone number.

“Since that time he has become more aware of police all around him.”

Also, page 4: “He does believe that the police are targeting him and harassing him. He has searched for evidence in his environment to validate these thoughts.”

Page 2:

“He questions whether they are stalking him and every time [Dr. Harris’ emphasis] he sees a policeman, he states that `I ditch them.’” Actually, Dr. Harris did indicate that once he felt that police in a police car were following him and that he did indeed ditch them. He also indicated that his heart was pounding. He categorically denies, however, saying “every time.” One instance hardly constitutes “every time.” This is a generalization made by Dr. Morier.

Dr. Harris is certainly more aware of the police around him—when he sees them, of course. As Dr. Harris discussed with Dr. Alan Slusky, clinical psychologist, when a person has experienced what he experienced in Ashern in relation to the police—the arrest and the subsequent harassment–increased awareness of the presence of the police is natural.

“…however, he is unhappy with his daughter’s choices, particularly her interest in Amway, because he believe that this organization is a waster of her time and is a `religion.’” Dr. Harris’ daughter invited him to attend a session of Amway with her, and he observed close at hand its operation. As a consequence, he did some research on this organization and sent it to Francesca. Francesca subsequently stopped attending such meetings. Dr. Morier, however, made the comment at the time, when Dr. Harris indicated disapproval of this organization and his daughter’s participation in it, that perhaps Dr. Harris was disapproving of her independence and was trying to control her. Attached is what Dr. Harris sent Francesca that he found on the Internet concerning Amway. 

“He [Dr. Harris] is well aware, however, that the vice-principal at Ashern School refused to give him a reference, as did the principal.”

Dr. Morier failed to pursue why the vice principal refused to provide Dr. Harris with a reference. The vice-principal was the former principal and was demoted to vice-principal the same time that Dr. Harris was demoted to being a de facto educational assistant after having his senior-high French classes stripped from him. The vice principal may well have refused to provide a reference out of fear for his own position. The year before, the vice-principal, who at the time was the principal, had evaluated Dr. Harris’ teaching positively. It is, moreover, Dr. Harris’ understanding that the vice principal would like Dr. Harris to call him since he stated that he had nothing to do with the situation that occurred at Ashern Central School.

“The main reason for this he believes was that these individuals disagreed with him on the value of John Dewey’s philosophy on education and their poor appreciation of Mr. Harris’ skills in teaching French.”

Dr. Harris does not believe this with respect to the vice-principal. With respect to the principal, Dr. Harris and Dr. Slusky have discussed how it is possible that the principal may have been intimidated by Dr. Harris’ doctorate and reacted accordingly. Undoubtedly the principal was concerned about the French program and attributed the problem to Dr. Harris’ apparent incompetence as a teacher. However, when the principal evaluated Dr. Harris’ French teaching, Dr. Harris responded with a 43-page reply, edited to 30 pages by Roland Stankevicius, MTS staff officer. Mr. Stankevicius also stated that the principal did not come out looking very well in his evaluation.

Page 3:

“Dr. Slusky has also prescribed the cognitive therapy book, called Feeling Good by Dr. Burns. Mr. Harris has read parts of the book but he stated that he has to disagree with many issues in this book, in particular in that he believes that there is no scientifically proven cause and effect relationship between thought and emotion.”

This is inaccurate. Dr. Burns claims that negative thoughts cause negative emotions. Dr. Morier failed to understand Dr. Harris’ assertion.

“He tried to engage the writer in a discussion defending this belief. When the writer would not participate and pointed out that he was being argumentative and pedantic, he stated that he feels that he needs to criticize everything.”

Dr. Harris denies this account of what transpired. Dr. Harris merely indicated that Dr. Slusky had recommended that Dr. Harris read this book as a prelude to engaging in cognitive behavioural therapy. Dr. Harris had already indicated to Dr. Slusky that, philosophically, Dr. Burns’ assertions are questionable. Dr. Harris did in fact write up a critique of parts of the book (attached).

Dr. Harris then indicated that he considered Dr. Burns’ assertions about the relationship between so-called negative thoughts and negative emotions to be unsubstantiated. Dr. Morier responded “Not yet” very emotionally.

After having felt abused by Dr. Morier, Dr. Harris felt inspired to do some research in educational journals that involved, implicitly or explicitly, the premises of cognitive behavioural therapy (which is linked to Dr. Burns’ assertions about the relationship between so-called negative thoughts and negative emotions). Dr. Harris came across Dr. Falkenberg’s article (attached), published in the Canadian philosophy of education journal. Dr.Harris submitted a short criticism of the article in the dialogue section of the journal (attached).

Dr. Harris has more appropriate outlets than debating with a psychiatrist who has economic power over him, indirectly, since the report, Dr. Harris knew, would influence whether he would continue to receive disability benefits from Manitoba Teachers’ Society.

Dr. Harris never stated, during this interview, that “he feels that he needs to criticize everything.” Such a view is simply stupid, and Dr. Harris would never say such a thing. On the other hand, he does have a Ph. D. in the philosophy of education and he agrees with John Dewey’s definition of philosophy as critique—and critique does not mean criticize everything—but criticizing what deserves to be criticized and that has importance in this world.

John Dewey was the greatest American philosopher of the twentieth century. Perhaps Dr. Morier would find John Dewey “pedantic and argumentative.”

Dr. Harris had no desire to engage in debate with Dr. Morier. He was not at the interview with Dr. Morier to debate with her.

Dr. Harris leaves it to the reader to judge whose version is more accurate.

Dr. Morier neglected to mention that Dr. Harris also stated that Dr. Burns argued, in his book,  that his book constituted bibliotherapy. Dr. Morier herself ridiculed such an idea. Dr. Harris leaves it to the reader to question why Dr. Morier permits such ridicule by herself but not by others.

“He stated that he often tried to have these philosophical discussions with Dr. Slusky.”

Actually, Dr. Slusky has been open to discussing a number of things. Dr. Harris need not “try to discuss”—he does discuss them. Dr. Harris also provided Dr. Slusky with a couple of his published articles.

Dr. Harris denies that he tried to discuss anything with Dr. Morier. He felt abused by her. Dr. Harris had no desire nor intention of trying to convince Dr. Morier of anything. He wanted the abusive process to stop—period.

Is it credible to maintain that someone wants to debate the other person if the person is feeling abused?

“He reported that Dr. Slusky is also trying to help him improve his interpersonal interactions by teaching him that there can be many ways of looking at and interpreting things which differ from his own view.”

Dr. Harris reported no such thing. Dr. Slusky and Dr. Harris have been discussing how Dr. Harris needs to understand how those in power are often threatened by the fact that Dr. Harris has a Ph. D.

What is sauce for the goose, apparently, is not sauce for the gander. Do psychiatrists display an understanding “that there can be many ways of looking at and interpreting things which differ from” their “own view?”

Dr. Morier implies that Dr. Harris’ views are dogmatic. Her views, of course, are not—according to Dr. Morier.

“He is also learning how to analyze his effect of his behaviour on other people.” The same issue again: the issue of Dr. Harris’ impact on those in power because he has a Ph. D.

Does Dr. Morier understand the impact of her behaviour on other people? Dr. Harris felt abused during the course of the interview.

“Mr. Harris seems to appreciate how flexible Dr. Slusky can be.” Dr. Harris certainly appreciates the respect that Dr. Slusky has shown Dr. Harris—unlike the extreme disrespect and indeed abuse that Dr. Harris experienced during the two-hour interview.

“When asked about his daily activities and his vocational rehabilitation planning, Mr. Harris spoke very disdainfully about how he was being `treated as a thing, as a machine’ by the disability insurance plan. He indicated that he was resentful that volunteering was forced upon him and increased by half-days on a weekly basis.”

This is inaccurate. Dr. Harris was forced to increase volunteering every half-day each month without any assessment of how the process was proceeding.

Dr. Morier, on page 1, decontextualized Dr.Harris’ assertion about being “well aware of their game,” thereby overgeneralizing. She here inaccurately reduces the timeframe for increasing the volunteering.

“He also disliked that he was told he needed to have an exercise program.” Dr. Harris believed that he had a right to express his dislikes to Dr. Morier. However, at one point, Dr. Harris queried whether Dr. Morier then expected Dr. Harris to subordinate his will to those in power. Dr. Morier’s response was, ”Exactly.”

Dr. Harris, during a meeting with Adelle Field Burton, case manager for MTS, and Kathleen Moore, employment counsellor, indicated that he had always hated physical education in school. They agreed with him. They saw nothing wrong with his choice of taking martial arts.

“Although he chose a form of martial arts training called Wing Chun for physical conditioning, he resents this as he does like being told what to do in class, feels exhausted after his weekly lessons and is in some pain because of recently developed bursitis. As well, he does not enjoy the sensation of having his heart pounding during the exercise.”

Dr. Harris at no time indicated that he was resistant to taking Wing Chun Kung Fu. Dr. Harris had taken such a form of martial arts when he was younger, and he is eager to learn this system. It is untrue that Dr. Harris “resents this as he does not like being told what to do in class.” Dr. Harris never stated such a thing. Dr. Harris recognizes the superior skill of his sifu, and he would never say such a thing. There is no evidence to suggest that Dr. Harris dislikes being told what to do in class. His sifu would undoubtedly confirm that Dr. Harris tries his best while in class.

Dr. Harris did indeed indicate to Dr. Morier that he often woke up in the early morning the next day after having attended the Wing Chun class. Dr. Morier’s response was rude: she indicated, in a very brusque manner, that Dr. Harris was out of shape.

“He clearly stated that he resents the Disability Benefits Plan telling him what to do and controlling his rehabilitation plan.” Dr. Harris talked to Dr. Gene Degen, counsellor in the EPA plan for Manitoba Teachers’ Society, while still working as a teacher. Dr. Degen indicated that, although one was expected to do certain things during rehabilitation, ultimately it was the person who formed the center of the plan and who was the driver.

“Upon reviewing the rehabilitation plan and the correspondence, the writer actually believes it is a quite gradual, gentle, generous rehabilitation program.” Dr. Harris is unsure what this means. Is Dr. Morier claiming that she reviewed the plan with Dr. Harris and stated that it “is … program?” Otherwise, the following sentence makes little sense: “He [Dr. Harris] abruptly stated that he wanted his family physician and him to negotiate the rehabilitation process.”

If Dr. Morier claims that she reviewed the plan with Dr. Harris and stated that it was a gradual plan, this claim is false. If she means that she reviewed the plan and found it gradual—that is her opinion. Dr. Harris was under the impression that he had a right to voice his views. Dr. Morier’s attitude that any negative attitude expressed by Dr. Harris was illegitimate shines through in this passage and was evident throughout the interview process. Her evident hostility towards Dr. Harris’ views formed the basis for Dr. Harris’ feeling of being abused.

Since Dr. Morier claims that the rehabilitation program is gradual when volunteering is increased a half day every week, she must, logically, consider the fact that volunteering was increased once every month to be even more generous.

Page 4: “The anger and irritability are much more prominent than sadness, which he acknowledged but has difficulty acknowledging that it is severe or disabling.”

This is false. Dr. Harris provided the examples to illustrate that he was less patient than before and that the impatience could be a problem for teaching since it was necessary to be patient as a teacher. He specifically stated that to Dr. Morier.

“…he clearly ruminates about the injustices he has suffered because he is a Marxist, as well as about his mistreatment and the mistreatment of his daughter at the hands of the police.”

Dr. Harris’ response is: And? Ignoring injustices is hardly healthy. Apparently, Dr. Harris is expected to view the world the way Dr. Morier does (despite the claim, in cognitive behavioural therapy, of viewing the world in diverse manners). Dr. Harris prefers a quote from the preface to Capital, volume one, by Karl Marx: “Perseus wore a magic cap that the monsters he hunted down might not see him. We draw the magic cap down over eyes and ears as a make-believe that there are no monsters!”

Page 5: “Content was significant for his preoccupations with all of the injustices in his life perpetuated by Child and Family Services….”

As for injustices in the world—Dr. Harris’ daughter has certainly experienced such injustice via the negligence of CFS and the Selinger government  [the NDP premier) (and, before that government, the Filmon government). [Gary Filmon was the Progressive Conservative Premier before Mr. Selinger.]

See the attached complaint against the Child and Family Services. Dr. Harris leaves it to the reader to determine whether the Child and Family Services has looked after the best interests of his daughter.

Apart from the above, there is further evidence of the inaccurate nature of Ms. Morier’s assessment. From Kathleen Moore, Rehabilitation Consultant, employed by MTS Disability, dated September 11, 2012: 

Fred made clear to me he has no interest in a gym program overseen by a therapist. I asked him what type of exercise programs he has done in the past and he stated he participated in martial arts programs. He has an interest in learning a martial arts program called Wing Chun. Fred found out the following that is of interest to him in terms of martial arts programs: 

  • Fred and I found one instructor who will instruct in Wing Chun but there were no others in this particular form of martial arts in Winnipeg. This instructor does it as a way of introducing the art to others and will only charge for the cost of the facility rental which is $30.00. Unfortunately he does not start a new class until November. The classes run for 3 weeks at 2x per week.
  • Fred has registered for a martial-arts and self-defense course with the Winnipeg School Division called “Personal Defense Readiness.” The cost is $89.00 total. It starts October 1st and runs for seven weeks 1x per week.

How anyone could claim that I resented participating in Wing Chun is beyond me. Perhaps it is due to stereotyping? As for the bursitis, the MTS Disability Plan actually paid a physiotherapist in order to solve that problem. I attended several sessions with the physiotherapist and engaged in exercises recommended by him at home in order to be able to participate in Wing Chun. That I felt tired while taking it is true–as was my pounding heart when I tried to sleep at night. I leave it to the reader to determine whether it is rational not to “enjoy” such sensations as a pounding heart that prevents one from sleeping properly. 


The oppression I experienced at the hands of Dr. Morier forms just one example of the oppression that many regular–and powerless–people experience at the hands of “experts” and “professionals” related, directly or indirectly, to the capitalist government or state. Such oppression is largely ignored by the social-democratic left, who idealize public services in general. 

In another post, I will further show how oppressive “psychological” therapy can be. 

The Radical Left Needs to Call into Question Existing Institutions at Every Opportunity, Part Three

Even before I served as the chair of the Substitute Committee for the Winnipeg Teachers’ Association (WTA), I tried to establish communication between the rank-and-file teachers and substitute teachers and myself. Such communication forms a necessary aspect of the work of the radical left.

A Philosophical (Critical) Commentary on the Collective Bargaining Seminar, August 22-24, 2007

I attended the collective bargaining seminar held by the Manitoba Teachers’ Society at Clear Lake. As I said to one of the MTS staff officers, it was an enlightening experience.

The seminar was very well organized. It was designed to combine a theoretical grounding in collective bargaining with hands-on practice through simulation of collective bargaining with a mock school board of two members.

The first day was spent meeting with pre-arranged teams of negotiating committees, with an MTS coach assigned to each team. The second day was split into two sessions, with the morning session involving the ins and outs of collective bargaining. There were separate sessions for members at the beginner level and for those with more advanced experience. In the afternoon, the negotiating teams met to develop their priorities for negotiating purposes. The entire Friday morning was a simulation of collective bargaining with two mock trustees opposed to each team. Other MTS staff circulated from time to time between the different negotiating sessions.

The use of the simulation mechanism provided an impressive air of realism to the whole learning process.

Another impressive aspect of the seminar was the emphasis on the importance of considering the impact of the acceptance of a clause in a particular collective agreement on teachers’ collective agreements as a whole.

In essence, that emphasis leads to a very important philosophical principle: considering any act as merely one phase in a larger, more inclusive act, undertaking or whole. The acceptance of a particular clause in one collective agreement begins just there, at the local level. Its consequences, however, may well extend far beyond the immediate collective agreement. These potential consequences then can be used to guide acceptance or rejection of the clause in a particular agreement. That is to say, the clause, when set in a larger whole (as a potential chain of consequences), may be modified or rejected because of its impact when considering that larger whole rather than seen in isolation. The means (a particular clause in a particular collective agreement) can then be made congruent with the end when the latter is conceived as an end that includes a larger whole. The implicit philosophical principle contained in the seminar was, then, the unity of the end in the means and the means in the end.

The realization of this principle is through communication, communication and more communication—from the local associations to the MTS and from the MTS to the local associations. In addition, the presence of MTS staff officers during collective bargaining is often (if not always) vital to ensure the realization of this principle.

That principle, however, could well be extended beyond the issue of collective bargaining. Collective bargaining is only a beginning phase in a larger whole, whether that whole includes the administration of the contract, the legal system, the economic structure of society, and so forth. Just as an individual clause in a collective agreement may have a different meaning when viewed from a more global perspective, might collective bargaining itself have a different meaning when viewed from a more global perspective of wider social relations?

Could the principle implied in the collective-bargaining seminar—the unity of ends in the means and the means in the ends–be extended far beyond the issue of collective bargaining?

Fred Harris, substitute teacher

I wrote the following in the WTA newsletter (it is necessary to address more immediate concerns of workers and their organizations as well):

Substitute News

Fred Harris, a substitute teacher, was appointed the chair of the Substitute Committee for the 2007-2008 school year at the executive meeting held at Gimli on June 3-4.

At the general meeting of substitute teachers held in May 2007 (organized by Gerry Thornhill), Diane LaFournaise, another substitute teacher, was elected the representative of the substitute teachers for the WTA Council monthly meetings, to be held at 6:30 (snack at 6:00 p.m.) at 191 Harcourt on the following days:

September 24
October 16
November 14
December 13
January 15
February 12
March 12
April 17
May 12
June 9

Although only substitute reps can vote at WTA Council meetings, all substitute teachers can attend them. They can also attend the substitute committee meetings held at 5:00 p.m. in Room A on the same day as the Council meetings at 191 Harcourt. They can thereby begin to understand where they fit into the WTA and how they may, in the longer term, become a voice within their own organization.
A fall meeting for all substitutes may be held to field their concerns. More information may be forthcoming in the subsequent newsletter, the Sub-finder Express system, email or contact by phone.

Should a substitute teacher have concerns that specifically relate to problems associated with being an employee of the Division, please call Glenda Shepherd, Administrative Assistant of the WTA, at 831-7104.

Fred Harris, substitute teacher

Co-optation of Students at School Through We Day, Part Two: The Social-Democratic Left Share Some of We Day’s Assumptions

In a previous post, I outlined how We Day is a form of indoctrination and that schools form vehicles for such indoctrination. What is the social-democratic left’s position in relation to  this indoctrination and its incorporation into schools?

I already mentioned the Manitoba Teachers’ Society (MTS) decision not to promote We Day since some of the corporations that sponsor the event act in contradiction to some of We Day’s professed principles (perhaps, by way of example, Cadbury’s use of cocoa produced with child labour from Ghana). MTS writes:

MTS Bows Out of We Day

The Manitoba Teachers’ Society will no longer be involved in promoting or participating in We Day events.

Delegates to annual meeting agreed with a recommendation from the organization’s Equity and Social Justice Committee and provincial executive.

“The Manitoba Teachers’ Society model of social justice is not reflected in We Day,” the resolution said. “We Day doesn’t promote, support or include a model of social justice that the Society identifies as effective in advancing social change. We Day is more of a charity model that doesn’t address the roots for systemic inequity.”

We Day is a yearly concert and speaker series attended by tens of thousands of students in Canada, the U.S. and Britain.

In recent years it has attracted controversy because of the number of corporate sponsors involved in the events. Some of those sponsors have been accused of actions in other countries that run counter to the messages on which We Day is based.

The decision by delegates does not extend to the involvement of schools and students. In the past, both MTS staff and elected officials have promoted and been participants in We Day.

Would MTS, however, have decided to not support We Day if all the sponsors were consistent with the professed principles of the creators of We Charity, Craig and Marc Kielburger? It is difficult to say, but since they consider a charity model to be insufficient to address the problem of systemic inequity, they would presumably still oppose the model characteristic of We Day. When I searched for the meaning of “systemic inequity” on their website, the only hit that came up with that term was–the item on We Day. (Replacing “equity” by “equality” resulted in zero hits.) Hence, the reader of their site cannot determine why specifically they do not support We Day. This vagueness prevents a reader from determining whether MTS’s position is reasonable in diverse social contexts, such as systemic racism, systemic sexism, systemic ignoring of the power of employers as a class, and so forth.

When I searched The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) website for “We Day,” I found zero hits. Nonetheless, I did find some hits when I searched using “Kielburger”–the surname of the founders of WE Charity and organizers of We Day held annually at many schools throughout Canada, the United States and elsewhere. Some of the material refers to Craig Kielburger as a model “hero,” as an example of a person who has made a difference, and a “high” recommendation of the book Take Action! A Guide to Active Citizenship by Marc and Craig Kielburger for activism advocacy.

For the many students who attend We Day, the vague reference to “systemic inequity” and the idealization of the Kielburgers as persons and as activists will probably confuse more than enlighten.

Lisa Howell, in an article written in 2015 “A parent & teacher’s reflections on “WE DAY”
how can a social movement feel so meaningless,” expresses her contradictory experience of expecting an inspirational day while attending We Day in Ottawa and experiencing a consumerist and anti-environmental day.

This contradiction between rhetoric and reality should not, however, surprise anyone who understands the nature of capitalist relations at work. In The Money Circuit of Capital, the end of the process of obtaining more money (the goal of private employers) results in more money in relation to the initial process but in itself it is merely a sum of money. To become capital, both the principal and some of the profit must be invested if the employer is to continue to function as an employer (since otherwise competition from other employers will result in being undercut and eventually going bankrupt). This whole process is infinite and can never be reached–it is a goal that can never be satisfied–the infinite process of the accumulation of capital.  How much money is enough? Never enough.

To state it differently: the birth of capital is simultaneously its death; consequently, the being of capital is a process that is only through it always reaching beyond itself.

In a finite world characteristic of the environment, capital is contradictory. There must be a contradiction between the environment and the nature of capitalist social relations. To resolve this problem requires surpassing this infinite process of capital accumulation. It requires a socialist society.

The Kielburgers, as seen in the first part of this two-part series of posts, do not question the legitimacy of this infinite process. They revel in it when they refer to “corporate and social responsibility.” The solutions which they offer, at best, a slight reduction in the impact that this accumulation process has on human beings, on human life and on the environment. Since they fail to question the legitimacy of the process of the process of capital accumulation, their solution actually diverts attention away from the pressing need to go beyond this accumulation process if the problems of child labour, poverty and environmental destruction are to be resolved.

The social-democratic left do seem to object to We Day on occasion. Thus, Molly McCracken, Manitoba director of the social-democratic Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, wrote a short article published online at Rabble.ca (We Day Sidesteps the Real Issues of Child Poverty). She points out the bias of We Day of pandering to corporations, who get free publicity and appear to be socially responsible. The problem of child poverty, she points out, is not addressed in such a forum.

However, let us look at some of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives’ own attitude towards corporations. I did a search, using the terms “fair share taxes.” Several hits came up, with such titles (and dates) as:

  • Demanding a Fair Share (July 20, 2017)
  • Replacing MSP with fair taxes would mean savings for most BC families: economist (July 6, 2016)
  • Change in direction on tax policy needed to escape budget crunch, ensure high-income British Columbians and corporations pay fair share: study (January 29, 2013)
  • A decade of eroding tax fairness in BC (June 30, 2011)
  • Fair Shares (April 27, 2011)
  • Canada’s rich not contributing fair share in taxes: study (November 8, 2007)

The criticism of corporations is restricted to the level of taxes that they pay. Neoliberal governments have reduced corporate taxes and taxes on the rich unfairly whereas the rest of the Canadian population has to pay a disproportionate (and unfair) level of taxes relative to the corporations and the rich.

The implication is that if progressive taxes are re-instituted, then fairness will be realized. This is a social-democratic  point of view, of course. One of the strategies of he social-democratic point of view is to focus on distribution after it has been produced and to disregard the process by which it has been produced (and, when it does focus on the process of production, it neglects the issue of the whether workers are free or not by using such cliches as “good jobs,” “decent work,” “fair contracts” and the like).

This does not mean that the left should not criticize skewed tax policies–but why do they simultaneously do so by implying that a change in tax policies will somehow magically convert the social world into a fair world? If corporations were to pay their “fair share,” then they should have the right to dictate to workers what to do, when to do it and how to do it, should they not? Would child labour, poverty and environmental destruction end if corporations paid their “fair share.”

This idea of “fair share” forms another cliche that the social-democratic left use to hide the reality of the social dictatorship that prevails when working for an employer.

What does the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives mean by “fair share” of taxes? Presumably the following (from the above 2007 article):

The study finds the top 1 percent of families in 2005 paid a lower total tax rate than the bottom 10 percent of families.

“Canada’s tax system now fails a basic test of fairness,” says Marc Lee, senior economist with the CCPA’s B.C. office and author of the study. “Tax cuts have contributed to a slow and steady shift to a less progressive tax system in Canada.”

Paying a fair share of taxes would then mean that the bottom 10 percent of families would pay a lower tax rate than the top 1 percent of families. As long as this is the case, then We Day promoters would then be justified in having corporate sponsors for the event. Of course, some may object that some sponsors may still contradict the principles of We day, but assuming that no corporation exploited child labour (for example), would the social democrats then criticize We Day? Presumably not. They believe, implicitly, that there can be such a thing as corporate fairness and corporate responsibility–just like the Kielburgers. Social democrats and neoliberals share certain assumptions together.

The social-democratic left cannot deal with the contradictory nature of the society in which we live; their inadequate way of dealing with We Day illustrate their inadequate capacity for dealing with this contradictory society.  They either vaguely refer to “systemic inequity,” or they find their expectation and reality contradictory, or they imply that as long as corporations pay their “fair share” of taxes, then We Day should be supported.

Since the social-democratic left cannot deal adequately with the nature of We Day, it is necessary to go beyond their point of view–to a socialist point of view, where the intent is to overcome the infinite process of the accumulation of capital and its corresponding conflicts, struggles and contradictions.

What of the radical left? As far as I can tell, they are, at least in Toronto (and probably elsewhere) oblivious to We Day and the extent to which students in schools are bombarded with employer ideology through such events. The radical left here in Toronto does not even bother to engage in ideological struggle; it accepts such ideologically loaded phrases as “decent work,” “a fair contract,” “fair labour laws,” and so forth.

What is the social-democratic left like where you live? The radical left?


Co-optation of Students at School Through We Day, Or School Indoctrination, Part One

I thought it appropriate to post a couple of comments on WE in light of the WE scandal. Justin Trudeau, prime minister of Canada, supported WE, and his wife personally participated in it–and his mother was paid by WE. However, rather than looking at the scandal, it is better to look at WE itself since, from my personal observations, school bureaucrats and many school employees, including teachers, accepted the hype from WE without any critical distancing or investigation of its nature.

We Day is an event promoted in many schools in the more developed capitalist world, organized by We Charity. It is supposed to be an effort to energize students in such countries to change the world and to make it a better place through performing acts of social justice.

The website for We day has the following to say (We Day Website):

WE Day is the manifestation of the WE movement: an unparalleled celebration of young people and educators who have made a difference. Held in over 15 cities across the United States, Canada, the UK and the Caribbean, the event series features an inspiring line-up of world-renowned speakers, award-winning performers and real-world stories of change. You can’t buy a ticket —you have to earn your way. All it takes is one local and one global action through WE Schools.

Wow. Does this not sound encouraging?

There is further information about We Day for Toronto in September, 2019:

 Click here to apply for media accreditation to attend WE Day 
 WE Day Toronto is free to thousands of students and teachers thanks to partners led by National Co-Title Sponsors RBC and TELUS 

TORONTOSept. 12, 2019 /CNW/ – Today, WE Day, the greatest celebration of social good, announces the initial dynamic lineup set to hit the stage at WE Day Toronto taking place at Scotiabank Arena on September 19, 2019. Held in 15 cities across North America, the U.K. and the Caribbean, WE Day Toronto will unite 20,000 extraordinary students and teachers who have made a difference in their local and global communities. Together they will enjoy a day of unforgettable performances and motivational speeches with WE Charity co-founders Craig Kielburger and Marc KielburgerEmilio EstevezRupi KaurSarah McLachlanNoah SchnappDavid SuzukiTegan and Sara and more to be announced in the coming days.

“We can achieve so much more together than we can alone and knowing that we’re a part of something bigger than ourselves is a great feeling,” said singer-songwriter, Sarah McLachlan. “Every student and teacher at WE Day is making a difference on their own, but when they come together under one roof, you can feel the massive impact of their collective efforts. I’m proud to be a part of such a powerful movement of change.”

More than a one-day event, WE Day is connected to the free, year-long service learning program WE Schools. Designed to enhance a school or community’s existing social initiatives or spark new ones, WE Schools provides teachers with educational resources and action campaigns to encourage students to further their curricular learning and develop life skills to succeed beyond the classroom. In the 2018/2019 school year, over 6,920 schools and youth groups along with 8,125 educators across Ontario improved the world through WE Schools, creating socially innovative solutions to some of today’s most pressing issues. Through WE Schools students and teachers volunteered over 1.7 million hours creating an estimated social impact value of more than $45 million in support of global and local causes including hunger, poverty, bullying, well-being, access to education and access to clean water in communities around the globe.

“The youth at WE Day are at the forefront of change. They are committed to tackling some of the largest issues the world has ever faced; including bullying, climate change, and mental well-being, to name a few,” said WE Charity co-founder, Craig Kielburger. “WE Day demonstrates how important it is to empower our youth to be leaders of change by providing them with the tools and resources they need to chase their dreams—both in the classroom and out in their communities. We are honoured to celebrate the efforts of the next generation and we can’t wait to once again commemorate their incredible achievements at WE Day Toronto.”

The initial list of WE Day Toronto speakers, presenters and performers in alphabetical orderannounced to date, include:

  • Appearances by: Nav Bhatia, Celebrity Marauders, Jessi CruickshankMaddy DimakosTyrone EdwardsEmilio EstevezMohammed FaizyJordan FisherSarain FoxConnor FrantaReina FosterJacob Grosberg, Jade’s Hip Hop Academy, Theland KicknoswayCraig KielburgerMarc KielburgerAiden LeePenny OleksiakJames OrbinskiJenna Ortega, Dr. Pamela Palmater, Marissa Papaconstatinou, David Patchell-Evans, Regent Park School of Music, Navia RobinsonNoah SchnappWali ShahDavid SuzukiMaddison ToryAlia YoussefSpencer WestChloe Wilde

  • PerformersScott HelmanRupi KaurSarah McLachlan, SonReal, Tegan and Sara

WE Day is free of charge to teachers and students across Canada thanks to the generous support of partners led by National Co-Title Sponsors RBC and TELUS. This means students can’t buy a ticket to WE Day Toronto— educators and youth from across the province earn their way by taking action on one local and one global issue of their choice.

WE Day magic continues beyond the day through WE Day Connect, a free 60-minute interactive online event taking place on October 8, 2019.

WE Day is supported in Toronto by Co-Chairs Kris Depencier, Regional President, Greater Toronto, & Vice President, Personal Lending and Client Strategies, RBC; Sarah Davis, President, Loblaws Companies Limited; and Jon Levy, Chief Executive Officer, Mastermind Toys. WE Day is supported nationally by Co-Chairs, Darren Entwistle, President & Chief Executive Officer, TELUS; Jennifer Tory, Chief Administrative Officer, RBC; Chief Perry Bellegarde, National Chief, Assembly of First Nations; Mark Dervishian, Chief Operating Officer, Ardene; Nelly Furtado, Canadian Singer/Songwriter; Jeffrey Latimer, President, Jeffrey Latimer Entertainment; Elio Luongo, Chief Executive Officer, KPMG Canada; The Honourable David C. Onley, Former Lieutenant Governor of OntarioBill Thomas, Chairman Elect, KPMG International & Chair, KPMG’s Americas Region, KPMG; James Villeneuve, Former Consul General of Canada to Los Angeles; and Andrew Williams, Chief Executive Officer, DHL Express Canada. WE Day is supported globally by Co-Chairs David Aisenstat, Chairman, Chief Executive Officer & President, Keg Restaurants Ltd.; Hartley Richardson, President & Chief Executive Officer, James Richardson & Sons Ltd.; Dave I. McKay, President & Chief Executive Officer, RBC; and Craig Burkinshaw, Co-Founder, Audley Travel.

School districts or divisions support We Day in various ways. For example, the Toronto District School Board (the largest school board in Canada), has the following on its website on Social Justice:

Social Justice

The TDSB is strongly committed to principles of fairness, equity and human rights. We believe we all have a shared responsibility to contribute to positive social change both locally and globally. Learning about and engaging in social justice issues (such as equity, diversity, abuse against women, poverty reduction and environmentalism) empowers everyone as 21st century global citizens.

The goal of our Social Justice Action Plan that every school will participate and report on one local action and one global action each as part of school plans.

Ways to get involved:

We Day

Unfortunately, We Day is really school rhetoric that fails to address the real issues facing students, employees and many others throughout the world. It is a controlled movement to indoctrinate students into believing that they really change the world through micro changes in the present social system.

Fortunately, some teachers’ organizations, such as the Manitoba Teachers’ Society (MTS) (in 2017) have seen through some of the rhetoric (though the inclusion of the last sentence weakens the criticism):

MTS Bows Out of We Day

The Manitoba Teachers’ Society will no longer be involved in promoting or participating in We Day events.

Delegates to annual meeting agreed with a recommendation from the organization’s Equity and Social Justice Committee and provincial executive.

“The Manitoba Teachers’ Society model of social justice is not reflected in We Day,” the resolution said. “We Day doesn’t promote, support or include a model of social justice that the Society identifies as effective in advancing social change. We Day is more of a charity model that doesn’t address the roots for systemic inequity.”

We Day is a yearly concert and speaker series attended by tens of thousands of students in Canada, the U.S. and Britain.

In recent years it has attracted controversy because of the number of corporate sponsors involved in the events. Some of those sponsors have been accused of actions in other countries that run counter to the messages on which We Day is based.

The decision by delegates does not extend to the involvement of schools and students. In the past, both MTS staff and elected officials have promoted and been participants in We Day.

The rhetoric of We Day can be seen in various ways. Consider the following statement by Craig Kielburger, one of the founders of We Day:

The urgent need for more stable funding eventually led to the creation of Me to We, a for-profit social enterprise that sells ethically produced goods and services, and funnels half its earnings to Free the Children.

What is “ethically produced goods?” In the book written by Craig Kielburger, entitled Free the Children, there are many references to child labour and opposition to it–and child labour usually takes the form of being an employee of some sort or other (including domestic servants)–but no opposition to the employment of adults. Opposition to children being employed by employers does not therefore go hand in hand with opposition to adults being employed by employers. Why the double standard? Why is it ethically unjust to employ children but ethically just to employ adults? Why is it ethically just to use adults as means for employers’ ends and ethically unjust to use children for the same end? (See The Money Circuit of Capital). Mr. Kielburger has no answer to this question since it does not even come up in his book. This silence reflects the typical silent indoctrination characteristic of schools concerning the power of employers to dictate to employees what to do, how to do it, when to do it, how fast to do it, and how much to produce (see, for example, A Case of Silent Indoctrination, Part One: The Manitoba History Curricula and Its Lack of History of Employers and Employees). For educators, such a lack of critical distancing from the social world is anything but educative.

Let us listen to the founders of We Day and Me to We, in their book Me to We: Finding Meaning in a Material World, Craig Kielburger and Marc Kielburger, page 128:

Today, employees want more than a paycheck—they’re looking for meaning. Many successful companies are empowering their employees to reach out to others and supporting their efforts in a host of different ways. Direct Energy bases its charitable giving on the number of volunteer hours put in by its employees. Xerox allows social service sabbaticals. Wells Fargo gives personal growth leaves. LensCrafters empowers its employees with challenging service projects all over the world. The list goes on. From Ben and Jerry’s ice cream to Paul Newman’s salad dressings to the Body Shop, businesses and social entrepreneurs are hearing the call of Me to We and are revolutionizing business practices in a colossal way.

This lack of critical distancing from the power of employers as a class is characteristic of these founders of such a hyped-up employer ideology:

Increasingly, companies are finding that corporate social responsibility has rewards that extend beyond employee morale. In recent studies, socially responsible and community-oriented companies have been shown to do better than their competitors. In 2001, Business Ethics Best Citizen companies did significantly better than the remaining companies in the S&P 500. The ranking was based on eight statistical criteria, including total return, sales growth, and profit growth over one-year and three-year periods, as well as net profit margins and return on equity.10

In other words, indoctrination via the concept of “corporate and social responsibility” leads to greater net profits. It pays for employers to link to the ideology of corporate social responsibility–an ideology that the founders of We Day and Me to We obviously promote.

“Ethically produced goods” includes, then, using adult workers as a means to obtain more and more money. This is indoctrination–not education.

Me to We also promotes “ethics” via consumer choices. On the Me to We website, we read (Welcome Me to We):

ME to WE is an innovative social enterprise that provides products that make an impact, empowering people to change the world with their everyday consumer choices.

One way in which indoctrination occurs is through shifting the focus from defining social problems and their solution in relation production to solutions relating to consumption. As David Jefferess writes, in his article, “The “Me to We” social enterprise: Global education as lifestyle brand,” page 18:

“Me to We” “transforms consumers into world changers, one transaction at a time” (Me to We 2011a); it promotes a way of being good in the world as a consumer identity: “Every trip, t-shirt, song, book, speech, thought and choice adds up to a fun, dynamic lifestyle that’s part of the worldwide movement of we,” (Me to We, 2011b).

We Day and its associated organizations (WE Charity, for example) also set up a dichotomy between the First World children and adolescents and those who live in the so-called Third World. First-World children and adolescents are supposed to be the fortunate ones who are to tend the hands of their fortunate lives to the unfortunate lives of children and adolescents in the Third World. As Jefferess writes (page 20):

Kielburger characterizes Canadians as “some of the luckiest people in the world” (2009). As global citizens, he asserts, Canadians need to “recognize what we have to share in this world” (2009): “As we learn to feel gratitude and act on our good feelings through reaching out to others, we begin to live the “Me to We” philosophy” (Kielburger & Kielburger 2006, p. 146). The solution to the problem of poverty is presented in terms of benevolent obligation: What can we, the fortunate, do to help the unfortunate?

For Kielburger and company, we Canadians are not exploited and oppressed by employers and the associated power structures (such as the police and the courts). We are not dictated to by employers at work; we are not treated as things while we are working. Students are not treated as “learning machines,” with grades (marks) as a weapon in keeping students in line–as well as the administrative structure of schools (the bureaucracy) and the Department of Education.

This exclusion of Canadians (and Americans,  British, French, German, Italian, Japanese and so forth) from the exploited and oppressed is characteristic of a particular kind of nationalism.

To be sure, workers, children and adolescents are relatively better off (with some exceptions, such as many indigenous children and adolescents) than their counterparts in the so-called Third World, but the We Day ideology ignores the forces in the more industrialized capitalist countries that have prevented the so-called Third World countries from resolving their social problems.

Thus, in from 1944 to 1954, in Guatemala (a country just south of Mexico), there were political, social and economic changes that were abolished when the CIA-supported military overthrew the elected president of Guatemala–Jacobo Arbenz. Land that was distributed to over 100,000 Guatemalan families for cultivation were taken back and returned to the powerful and rich land owners. Under such conditions, is there any wonder that many Guatemalan children remain poor, and child labour is common? (See Thomas Offit, Conquistadores de la Calle: Child Street Labor in Guatemala City).

Furthermore, many Guatemalans’ experiences of torture, disappearance, assassination and genocide since the installation of the 1954 military dictatorship also illustrate how the “fortunate” capitalists in the industrialized countries (especially the United States, but also other countries, such as Canada, which fail to oppose the foreign policy of the United States) have contributed to the continued exploitation and oppression of children, adolescents and adults in the so-called Third World.

In addition, it was the United States government that trained many of the Guatemalan military responsible for torture and other atrocities by training them in counterinsurgency techniques. The Guatemalan military  became an efficient killing machine (the extent to which the Guatemalan was organized into an effective killing machine is described, for example, in Guatemala: Nunca Mas).

We Day and its supporting organizations, far from educating youth on the realities of the world in which we live, hides such a reality. Problems that cannot be solved by the methods of its advocates are simply not addressed. The pseudo-solutions which it proposes reflects a world dominated by a class of employers.

The popularity of We Day among Canadian school administrators and school teachers and employees expresses the lack of critical thinking characteristic of such administrators, teachers and employees.

In a future post, I will address how the Left has addressed We Day and its supporting organizations.