Broken Dreams

Spoken dreams.

In the US the dream is explicitly articulated, and unashamedly defended. In Europe, the dream is told through our history and social class system: we tacitly learn our place in the social hierarchy, and how to move up it should we so wish. In Asia the media brazenly describes the dream through respect afforded to consumer products and wealth. Millions of people bombarded daily with the perfect smiles of those who have achieved the wealth dream.

Towing the line / conformity.

Education, we are told is the best way to achieve the dream. However, school is really tough in the early 21st Century. Competition is far greater than it ever was, standards are higher and examined expectations are now truly challenging.

However, kids from Shanghai to Seville to Seattle are told to buckle down, work harder and compete for those educational prizes if they are to achieve the dream. All this competition leads to conformity, doing as we’re told, not trying to be uniquely bold.

Or at least it seems that people are conformist whilst they still believe in the dream.

Broken Promises.

In The Wizard of Oz the Wizard is revealed as an ordinary old man with a loudspeaker. What if the dream of economic and social success was similarly revealed as a sham ?

What if all the kids who had worked so hard through school and college were told that there were no more glittering prizes, there are no jobs “sorry kids – we ran out of jellybeans !” ?

What if people who had worked hard all of their lives lost their jobs and houses through no fault of their own ? What if they had their hard earned prizes taken away from them by the actions of rich, removed politicians and bankers ?

What if this happened ?….,

Anomie…, what next ?

When the dream is shattered people have their core value system removed. This affects their sense of identity, their very purpose is drawn into question. They may start to undergo the stages of grieving, one of which is anger…,

Anomie is a state of normlessness , if people no longer have a dream to believe in they no longer have expected forms of behaviour – they are in anomie.

We have seen anomie before, we may be seeing it again in some societies around the world which are currently undergoing rapid change. If EU/IMF want to maintain social cohesion in W.Europe I suggest that they restore the old dream, or create a new one very rapidly.

but then, do they really want to maintain social cohesion ?


About danieltrump

breathing and sensing human. Learning to observe, learning to write, exploring ideas and thinking.


  1. jonathanswinton

    You are quite right. But like TV listings magazines, other dreams are available. Some kids dream of education is as gaining access to an intellectual world where you can learn and argue about quantum mechanics or mechanisms of cancer or free trade or Middlemarch. I know because I was one. I’m sure you’re right that many students and parents want to invest in education as a direct economic act, and I can see why that might be both more common and less likely to succeed than it used to be, and perhaps it has always been a dominant motivation. It just wasn’t for me and I hope it won’t be for my boys. I hope they encounter teachers that remember and want to pass on how excited they were when they first discovered one of the cooler corners of human intellectual achievement, not (just) ones that can get them into Goldman Sachs.

    Even so, you could look at the unrest in Egypt and Brazil this month, not as the educated discovering that they won’t get what they have been promised but, for the first time in those societies, a majority discovering that they have the education that lets them demand real change. Plenty of trouble ahead, but would you rather face it with an educated if anomic (?) mass or an uneducated one?

    • Of course you are correct – the intrinsic value of education is an ideal which I think the vast majority of teachers are working for each day. However, I’m not sure that most students see their education in such a way – it’s the motivations for actions which I am trying to consider.

      Yes- I definitely think that educated anomists (!) are better than uneducated ones !

      thanks for the reply – great thinking !

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: