If Karl Marx were alive today, and given to bouts of armchair psychology, he might take up a job writing French and German school textbooks. He’d fit right in, if a recent report into what students in those two countries learn about business and economics is any indication.
In its most recent issue, the well-regarded journal Foreign Policy cracked open some recently written school books and found them to be chock full of the many ills of globalization, hard work, entrepreneurialism and capitalism, with some passages describing the latter as “brutal,” “savage,” “neo-liberal,” and, horror of horrors, “American.”
According to the piece in the journal, entitled Europe’s Philosophy of Failure, one French high-school textbook teaches that “economic growth imposes a hectic form of life, producing overwork, stress, nervous depression, cardiovascular disease and, according to some, even the development of cancer.” Meanwhile, German kids are taught “the worldwide call for more deregulation in reality means a grab for the material lifeblood of the modern nation state.” In other words, Jack and Jill went up the hill and formed an exploitive water monopoly.
While Europe is well-known for its left-ofcentre point of view, the journal argues contemporary state-sanctioned curricula have taken this to an extreme. Students are schooled that private companies destroy jobs, while government policies create them, and that free markets only offer chaos, while the key to order is an increase in regulation.
“This bias has tremendous implications that reach far beyond the domestic political debate in these two countries,” the journal states. “These beliefs inform students’ choices in life.” That could explain some troubling realities about risk-taking there. Germans are more than twice as likely as Americans to believe one should not start a business if it might fail, while polls have found just two in five Germans and French ever want to be their own boss. Marx, at least, would approve. M
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