ISSN 2410-5708 / e-ISSN 2313-7215

Year 8 | No. 22 | p. 145 - p. 155 | June - September 2019


The perversion of imperialist education


Submitted on November 29th, 2019 / Accepted on December 3rd, 2019

Ph.D. Agustín Velloso Santisteban

Ph.D. of Education Sciences

Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (UNED), Spain


Keywords: imperialism, national education system, militarist education


Imperialism is still alive today as it was centuries ago, although with greater force. This is manifested in the increase of their control over the subject populations and their enormous grabbing of world resources. To maintain this position, he also employs the gunboat, religion, and education as a homebody as before. Within formal education, mostly state, governments use the education system as another tool to promote imperialism. Its main success is to have the subject populations resigned to their destiny.


For more than 30 years, economist Martin Carnoy published his book entitled Education as Cultural Imperialism, Carnoy (1987), in which he wrote:

“The formal education of the West reached many countries as part of imperialist domination.”

He added that this “was consistent with the aims of imperialism: the economic and political control of the people of one country by the ruling class of another. The imperial power tried, through school education, to prepare the colonized for the functions that suited the colonizer.” Carnoy (1987, p. 13-14).

This situation has not changed in the essential: either in terms of the aforementioned control nor in what refers to the way of extending imperialism everywhere. No one can be deceived. Rather, everyone knows it even if only a few dares to speak the truth in public and thereby put themselves in danger.

This is what Colonel Muamar al Gaddafi did at the headquarters of the United Nations Organization (UN) at its 64th General Assembly, in September 2009 and which should be remembered here. He said referring to the Charter of the United Nations (in a very extracted way):

“The Preamble is very attractive, and nobody objects to it, but all the provisions that appear after it completely contradict it (…). It is said that we have equal rights, whether our countries are large or small. Do we have the right to veto? Are we equal? The veto contradicts the Charter. (…). The Preamble of the Charter states that armed forces should not be used, except in the common interest but what has happened since then? 65 wars have erupted since the creation of the United Nations and the Security Council, with millions of more victims than in the Second World War (...). Do these wars, as well as the aggression and force that were used, respond to the common interest of all of us? That blatantly contradicts the Charter of the United Nations that we signed (...). Granting the right of veto of permanent members of the Security Council to those in power is an injustice and a terrorist act, and we should not tolerate it. We should not live in the shadow of this injustice and terror. Superpowers have complex global interests and use the right of veto to protect those interests.” (Ramos, 2016), (Lèvesque, 2013).

Unfortunately, his words have not yet been fulfilled “We are about to prosecute the United Nations; the old Organization will come to an end and a new one will emerge”, the UN continues to get corrupted; continues to violate the letter and spirit of the Charter. It may be noted that world peace and the rest of its stated objectives are further than ever.


The means of imperialism evolve thanks to new technologies and other resources at your disposal. The end does not vary, except for increasing its dominance over the earth and gradually also of outer space.

Is it just a quantitative advance? Of course, the impulse of imperialism increases, although one can also speak of a qualitative advance in parallel.

Formerly, it was the force of the gunboats that imposed the imperialist’s will on the ‘inferior races’. Education and religion helped them to somehow resign themselves to their destiny and avoid being the target of the cannon shots.

Imperialist education was intended to provide the subject populations with the knowledge that allowed them to work in activities favorable to the empire and as a ‘collateral effect’ (in today’s imperialist language) make a living, although this is merely instrumental, that is, in the extent to which it contributed to the first objective.

From the Second World War, the phenomenon of decolonization occurs, which to summarize in two words it can be affirmed that its result has enriched the metropolis and impoverished the colonies, (Descolonización, 2019).

This is because, due to the cost paid in the past by colonized and pillaged nations in human lives and property, they have not yet been replaced. , (Naciones Unidas y la Descolonización, 2015).

So much has been the success of imperialism that not only has its end not occurred but that it evolves at full speed and thus the same damage and injury.

It is advisable to stop at the title of the aforementioned “Declaration on the granting of independence to colonial countries and peoples” and in the short text before the declaration itself.

The first paragraph of the Declaration recognizes that “The subjection of peoples to foreign subjugation, domination, and exploitation constitutes a denial of fundamental human rights, is contrary to the Charter of the United Nations and compromises the cause of peace and global cooperation”.

The set is still so absurd and feigned still that shows the enormous disparity of forces between the two sides and anticipates what was left to come.

What actually happened in the post-Declaration stage was a simple change of name: from colonialism to neo-colonialism, with which it was understood that the newly liberated countries were politically but not economically.

That bland term gave rise to another, which is still present today: ‘globalization’. Perhaps one day it will be written and studied that this is nothing more than the wrapping of poisoned candy since the description of its results fits perfectly with the first paragraph of Declaration 1514.

Colonialism, although slightly, had received a reprimand at the headquarters of the UN by most of its member countries, but that colonial minority had an easy answer: change the name and let reality take its course, that is, stay under its control.

This perversion of language has been used since then ad nauseam. At the Boao Forum in Asia, held in April 2018, the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, said that “I am deeply convinced that globalization is irreversible (...) has brought many benefits”, (At Asian forum, UN chief calls for more equitable globalization, urgent action on climate change, 2018).

He indeed added: “The world must act to extend the benefits of globalization more equitably” (At Asian forum, UN chief calls for more equitable globalization, urgent action on climate change, 2018), which is a falsehood, since the wealth produced, much or little, is not distributed equally as it shows the increasing distance between those who own the most and those who least.

The continuous improvement of propaganda, advertising and mass media was and is very useful. This is interesting to remember before moving on to the role of education because it is reasonable to argue that the greatest success of globalization is not to have made the rich richer and the poor poorer, but thanks to those means and their messages that drug them and alienate them, they are resigned.

Obviously, it is debatable the number of those who resign, those who accept it with a better or worse disposition and how many actively resist. What is less debatable is the cruel programmed suffering on millions of human beings and the harmful impact it causes to the planet, known for years without taking the necessary measures to stop it until now.

This is nonsense when the state of science and technology is the most extraordinary mankind has ever known:

Today an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) can be fired with ten thermonuclear heads so that in a little more than half an hour it hits an objective that is 15,000 kilometers from the launch base, but there is no device capable of bringing medicines and food to needy populations, even if they are dying days or months after their situation is made public.

This does not seem very consistent with the Charter of the United Nations and less with the most basic humanitarian spirit, even with common sense.

In addition to the work of propaganda agents (non-formal education) with the masses, school institutions (institutional education) have a no less important role in the propagation and acceptance of globalization among the children of these crowds.

For some years now it is common to find among the traditional teachings dedicated to ‘national’ training, for ‘democracy’ and ‘citizenship’, which schoolchildren receive throughout their stay in the compulsory education system and beyond, other new ones dedicated to globalization, ‘humanitarian interventions’, etc. and also about ‘entrepreneurship’ and ‘financial education’.

Some examples show how far imperialism has come in the use of educational systems for its own benefit.

The education system in Palestine is an extreme case for several known reasons: militarily occupied by Israel, it suffers the permanent violation of international laws by the latter, which has the support of the international community ’, (Velloso, 2002, p. 145-154).

This translates into the fact that the education system suffers the consequences like the rest of the national systems: health, economy, infrastructure, etc. of the continuous aggressions by Israel that are interspersed between war and war: Molten Lead (2008-09) Defensive Pillar (2012) and Protected Border (2014).

Just as these wars against the Palestinian civilian population are blatantly presented to world public opinion as ‘defensive’, ‘counter-terrorism operations’, etc. other smaller but constant aggressions are presented as follows: “the University of Tulkarem, placed next to an active military installation has continued to be the scene of clashes between students and the personnel of the Israel Defense Forces. “(FDI), (Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor - U.S. Department of, 2016).

It is convenient to pay attention to this perverted language: the responsibility for what happens is placed in the Palestinian university and not in the IDF because according to the source that reports:

a. It is “placed” next to an active military installation, when it is this that has been established in Tulkarem, a town in the West Bank, under Israel’s control like the rest of Palestine;

b. It also presents itself as the active agent: “it is still the scenario” instead of “it is still the target of the IDF attacks” as if it were the one that shoots and not the one that is attacked;

c. Writing “clashes” between the students and the “IDF staff” is a superlative lie because the students - who are unarmed civilians and protected by international law - are the victims of rockets fired by soldiers at the university. The soldiers appear as simple workers of the university, as regular staff in all the universities of the world. There can be the talk of clashes when there is proportionality among the contestants, but this does not correspond to reality: defenseless students are attacked by soldiers endowed with weapons of war.

Someone will say that there is a peace process between Israel and Palestine. True, a process that began in Madrid in 1991 and officially since the Washington Accords signed between the parties in 1993 in Washington, but it lasts more than 25 years according to the second figure and is truer than the Israeli military occupation about Palestine is not over, it has become more and more entrenched.

The main characteristic of the peace process is its uncertainty. It is inherent uncertainty, not only focused on the speed of the process or on cyclical factors. It is that the two parties to the conflict have opposite objectives and work in opposite directions. Besides, the Palestinians are the weakest part with an abysmal difference and depend almost entirely on Israel.

Finally, the international law of application to the conflict, although it has not been officially repealed, has become irrelevant in its resolution. The last measure of the United States government, announced by its Secretary of State has been to declare that “the establishment of Israeli civil settlements in the West Bank, by itself, does not contradict international law”, (BBC, 2019).

Palestinian education authorities, teachers, families and citizens, in general, cannot avoid facing this schizophrenic environment. The uncertainty regarding the political situation in the future does not help in any way to clarify the educational objectives or to the management of the teaching plans.

The problem is not in the education system: without control over the state, there is no control over education.

Although the Palestinian Authority (PA), through its Ministry of Education, has nominative control over the Palestinian education system, it lacks control over the fate of the Palestinian nation. Because of this, even though the curriculum is designed to contribute to the achievement of national objectives, the truth is that it can hardly do so.

The simplest question to answer for another student in any other country in the world is an immense task for a Palestinian child: what are the borders and the extent of your country? Better not to mention others: what are the powers of the State? What is the fate of the millions of refugees who are not allowed to return to their homes? Why don’t the Palestinians have a state like the Israelis do? How should students contribute to national construction and the restoration of their national rights?

The Palestinian government cannot solve this typically colonialist situation, so the only way out is to distract the attention of schoolchildren, teachers, and families, a task they delegate to the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) of the empire. (one.laptop.org, 2010).

According to the website of ‘one laptop per child’ (OLPC), “the Palestinian educational authorities, UNRWA (the UN agency for Palestinian refugees) and the Palestinian Education Initiative (PEI) have collaborated in the international OLPC campaign, one computer per child”, (one.laptop.org, 2010).

This is how the campaign is advertised: “The client donates 400 dollars and receives two laptops, one of which goes to a child in a developing country” (Shah, 2008).

What is behind this generosity? A multinational: www.amazon.com

Who owns Amazon? Jeff Bezos, the richest man in the world with 100 billion dollars.

In December 2016, Bezos visited Israel for business with the University of Haifa and with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) (haaretz, 2016).

The conclusion is clear: it would be naive to think that the education system works as if it were within an impenetrable bubble for imperialism. Many of the ‘lessons’ that it provides to children and youth revolve around constant and endless violence that includes extrajudicial killings and indiscriminate massacres; which is directed against people, goods and institutions, international witnesses, against international law and against the future of the Palestinian population.

Can we expect formal education to be able to straighten this situation? It can barely, its influence is much less than non-formal. The teaching is that constant wars in the area, many more minor clashes, attacks and counterattacks, the absence of justice and a widespread violation of human rights, have a much more powerful ‘educational’ influence than ministerial brochures and campaigns of non-governmental organizations.

On the other hand, the population of the imperialist countries also receives another ‘education’, although adequate to their situation, very different from that of the former.

120 years ago the British writer Rudyard Kipling wrote for Queen Victoria on the occasion of her diamond jubilee a poem entitled The White Man´s Burden with an ad hoc subtitle: The United States and the Philippine Islands. It praises the manhood, effort, dignity, altruism, and wisdom of the Western colonialist, who in his opinion was employed for the benefit of the ungrateful savages.

As immoral and rude as it may seem to a contemporary reader, the situation has barely changed: today it is no longer a qualified representative of the imperial class who educates, but it is the State itself and private agencies that employ institutions, personnel and public and private resources for the same purpose.

The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) founded in 1945 “has the conviction that scientists, engineers, and others with technical training have a moral obligation to ensure that the technological fruits of their intellect and effort are applied to the benefit of humanity”. (fas, 2019).

One of the FAS studies reports that “the Reserve Young Officers Corps Training Program (JROTC) (usarmyjrotc, 2019) is a voluntary instruction for second-stage high school students offered by the Department of Defense (DoD) through the army. Its goal is to ‘instill in students the value of citizenship, service to the United States, personal responsibility and a sense of accomplishment.

He adds that more than 3,000 units are operating in each state and overseas institutes of the DoD. In the program, there are more than 500,000 students enrolled. “The financing of the program for the fiscal year 2019 was $ 386 million”, (Kamar; Arriaga, 2019).

Its origin is in the law signed by President George W. Bush just after the attacks of September 11, 2001: No Child Left Behind Act, (NCLB, 2001, replaced in 2015 by Every Student Succeeds Act, 2015):

“Schools that receive federal funds must give military recruiters equal access to students who are given to representatives of companies and universities looking for workers and students respectively, which includes the names of all secondary school students”

As if this were not enough, “a report from the US Army War College advocates unrestricted recruitment, since ‘DoD access to high school students remains of the maximum importance to increase the troop, because the inclination to the military service decays of important form between the majors of 18 years’ ”.

The DoD negotiates with companies specializing in data processing to provide information about students so that they can select the most appropriate for their purposes (...). It develops video games, has the collaboration of the film industry, of course with that of advertising, etc.

All this deployment of personnel and resources also includes preschoolers, which is promoting among the young generations thought about war and militia as something exciting and great, without mentioning the trauma and death for those whom it is designed, (Grey, 2016).

To put the program in perspective, it is best to complete this official data and figures with the point of view of an expert, a veteran of Afghanistan, because it offers a vision far removed from the slogans, values , and pride seen above.

Rory Fanning was a command of the United States Army that as a veteran visits institutes today, but does not do so to recruit, but does so because in their talks in schools the students discover a world that nobody has spoken to, (Fanning, 2019).

First, “he describes the frustration he felt with the Chicago school system because schools were closing at record speed at the poorest neighborhoods in the city and yet somehow it always had money to complete the JTROC program funding.” (…) This well-known program is the hen of the golden eggs for the institutes and discourages them from moving the boat in rough waters.”

The rest is a shocking story of his time in the army and war, first during his military training, then during his mission in Afghanistan, very enlightening of its consequences:

“I joined the Army Rangers to pay my school loans and to do my bit and prevent another terrorist attack such as September 11th (2001) (…) Mainly, I believe that the commanders trained me to say yes to their orders. The army and critical thinking are not compatible. ” (...)

“The Army gave thousands of dollars to anyone willing to identify suspect members of the Taliban and the soldiers raided houses based on that information. Then, I understood that this ‘information’, if it can be called so, had its source in a kind of despair: the abject poverty of an Afghan looking for any job to support his family, leads him to point to anyone in change for the access of the deep money well available to the army. In a world where there are few factories and administrative jobs are scarce, people will do whatever it takes to survive, they have to. ”(…)

“We often broke down the door of a house and took an Afghan not because of his relationship with the Taliban or al-Qaeda, but because a neighbor had a penance with him.” (…)

“My company occupied the school of a town and the commander suppressed the classes indefinitely because it was an excellent shooting post and there was no school principal in rural areas of Afghanistan capable of deterring the most powerful and technologically advanced army in history has its own will”.

“I remember two men of military age who were passing through the school we were occupying. One of them did not show an acceptable level of deference to my first sergeant, so we stopped them. We lock the arrogant subject in one room and his friend in another. The first one heard a shot and thought, just as we had planned, that we had just killed his friend for not responding to what we asked him and that he would be next. ”

“I am more proud of having left the army than of anything I did when I was in it. My two missions in Afghanistan made me realize that I was making the world less safe. Today we know that the majority of the approximately one million people who have been killed since September 11 were innocent civilians, people who had nothing to do with it and no reason to fight until, as often happened, the army caused him to kill him or injuring a relative who was almost always an innocent bystander. ”

“I understand that the program is a vital livelihood for Washington’s permanent war in the Middle East and parts of Africa. Their endless conflicts only occur because students continue to enroll. Again and again, politicians and school boards declare that their institutes are without money, there is no money for books, teacher salaries, and their pensions, healthy meals ... However, in 2015, the government spent 598 billion in the army. Imagine what educational system we would have in this country if the teachers received the same money that the weapons contractors receive, (…). It is difficult to fight in eternal wars of billions of dollars if the boys do not get ready, (Fanning, 2016).


Imperialism continues its way today as centuries ago. The fundamental difference between the old and the new is the application of new technologies to the usual tools: the gunboat, religion, and education. Its objective does not vary: the domain of resources and the control of populations.

Today imperialism is concealed under the term globalization, whose greatest success is not to enrich the rich at the cost of increasing their economic distance from the rest of humanity but to get their members to resign themselves to this destiny.

Education also continues to collaborate in the achievement of those objectives, within the school system and also outside. This is a formal education, which is principal but not exclusively in the hands of the State. Outside of school it is done by other means such as propaganda and advertising, with the powerful contest of mass media and is known as informal education.

In the case of Israel, which has been occupying Palestine for decades, it is evident that through its enormous propaganda works on an alleged peace process and the absence of violations of international law on its part, it tries to convince the world of its position, which includes the Palestinians themselves, a population so punished and weakened that they can barely resist.

The case of the United States exposes a country that despite its incomparable economic and military power needs its governments to intervene in various ways in the educational system to provide the army with cannon fodder, which will be used in the submission of populations and control of your resources anywhere in the globe.

In both cases, it can be seen that private companies are part of these state interventions in a sort of alliance against voters and consumers, which is actually reduced to those who, however, are believed to be citizens of the century XXI, in his opinion much more humanized and advanced than that of the ancient colonized.

Works Cited

Carnoy, Martin (1987) Education as Cultural Imperialism, New York: David McKay Co.

Carnoy, Martin (1987). La educación como Imperialismo Cultural.

Ramon, Ruben (2016). “Las tales Naciones Unidas no existen”: Al Gadafi. Retrieved from http://kaosenlared.net/las-tales-naciones-unidas-no-existen-al-gadafi/

Lévesque (2013). Más sobre el imperialismo de Estados Unidos, la Ley Internacional y las Naciones Unidas. Retrieved from www.globalresearch.ca/us-imperialism-international-law-and-the-united-nations/5314381

Descolonización (2019). Retrieved from http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Descolonizaci%C3%B3n#Descolonizaci%C3%B3n_pol%C3%ADtica

Las Naciones Unidas y la Descolonización (2015). Retrieved from https://www.un.org/dppa/decolonization/es/history/international-decades

At Asian forum, UN chief calls for more equitable globalization, urgent action on climate change (2018). Retrieved from http://news.un.org/en/story/2018/04/1006951

Velloso, Agustín (2002). Palestinian Education: A National Curriculum Against All Odds, International Journal of Educational Development, 22:2, 145-154

Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor - U.S. Department of 2016 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices (2016). Retrieved from https://www.state.gov/country-reports-on-human-rights-practices-for-2018/

US says Israeli settlements are no longer illegal (2019). Retrieved from www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-50468025

one.laptop.org (2010). Retrieved from http://one.laptop.org/news/250-palestinian-refugee-children-receive-laptops-amari-boys-school

one.laptop.org (2010). Retrieved from http://one.laptop.org/ y http://one.laptop.org/about/mission

Shah, Agan (2008). Amazon to sell OLPC's XO laptop starting Nov. 17. Retrieved from www.computerworld.com/article/2534150/mobile-wireless/amazon-to-sell-olpc-s-xo-laptop-starting-nov--17.html

Haaretz (2016). Retrieved from www.haaretz.com/israel-news/business/1.758632

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usarmyjrotc (2019) www.usarmyjrotc.com/index.php

Kamarc; Arriaga (2019). Defense Primer: Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC). Retrieved from http://fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/IF11313.pdf

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Fanning (2016). Tomgram: Rory Fanning, Talking to the Young in a World That Will Never Truly Be "Postwar".