The education system under nondemocratic rule
Having grown up in a country that used to be under an authoritarian government for almost 20 years, I have come to see how the arguments given by Jeff Noonan can be related to countries like Chile. Why and how does a country have a totalitarian government for so many years? Why do people not revolt against an autocratic ruler or the nondemocratic military rule?
Those are the kind of questions I asked myself when my high school history teachers discussed how the military government rose to power in Chile in 1973. Teachers sometimes provided bias answers to these questions based on how they and their families were affected by the military government. Until now I have not been able to fully understand and answer these questions. Over the past month, Jeff Noonan’s book Materialist Ethics and Life-Value provided me with some really good answers.
First of all, Noonan (2012) notes that education is a primary way in which citizens of a country learn “how to test and then go beyond established limits” (69). I believe this argument allows me to answer the two questions I proposed at the beginning. First, during the Pinochet years, civic classes were prohibited in all schools and the history of the country was taught until the 1950s, right before the country started moving towards electing socialist governments. Almost everything was taught under the vision that capitalism was a superior system to communism and the USSR were an evil that needed to be stopped.
Second, we later learned of that external forces such as the United States supported the Pinochet government. As Noonan points out, when a society is incapable of solving the problems in their own country, countries like the United States often come to intervene and “help” solve these problems. However, I see this as what Noonan says: “obey and succeed, challenge and be destroyed.” Given that in the 1970s Chile was under the government of Salvador Allende, a member of the Socialist Party, the US saw this a threat and, therefore intervened to remove the elected government of Chile.
Returning to education, if an authoritarian government controls the education system it prepares people to obey, and therefore, to not be able to challenge power and authority. In the case of people that challenged the system, they were tortured, kidnapped or even killed. People were living in fear, thus they were scared to challenge the government. This led Chile, and other South American countries to have military governments for many years.
There are many things that could be said about this topic but I will leave you this for you to apply the situation to Noonan’s propositions about liberalism and how the money-value system works. Are people from other countries being treated as mere instruments for the sake of the ruling power system? Is there a way to prevent the intervention of other countries? And how does the education system reinforce a system that allows for such intervention?
-Felipe del Campo-Donoso
 Jeff Noonan, Materialist Ethics and Life-Value, 2012: 159.