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Géza Sáska: The Anti-capitalist and Anti-Democratic image of social equality in 20th century educational ideologies

The educational representation of romantic anti-capitalist, and closely related religious and life-reform movements, organised in opposition to 19th century capitalism, offered an alternative to the bourgeois school and society, which was based on the innately determined development of child and society, ideas presumed to be scientifically proven. The new, just and egalitarian society, designed with scientific and professional thoroughness was presumed to operate in ways to surpass the weaknesses of liberal parliamentarian democracy. After World War 1, in countries preserving their democratic state, the representatives of these social and educational ideologies did have an impact, but no access to administrative power. However, in authoritarian, totalitarian countries, they did gain power. The ideas of, or the intention to realise, reform education can be identified in state policies propagating „new man, new school and new education for the new society”, such as the early phase of Mussolini’s educational policy, Hitler’s Mein Kampf and the post-revolution decades of the Soviet Union. The political shift in the mid-thirties brought on the return of earlier pedagogies and discredited the representatives of reform education in these countries as well. In Hungary, the thirties further strengthened the child-centred pedagogies which sought to legitimise the social order by natural and psychological factors in nation-education and by supporting the talented of the lower classes. After World War 2 and a few years of transition, Hungary under Soviet influence can be characterised by a struggle between Stalinist and reform communist (socialistic) pedagogies. The reference points of the reform socialist pedagogy are the pre-WW1 romantic autonomist and utopian experiments and the Soviet Union in the 1920s, excepting the elements of the actual socialist educational policies and school practice that can be attributed either to Stalin or to the school of the bourgeois democratic society. This ideology has remained decisive from the eighties to the years following the new millennium.

MAGYAR PEDAGÓGIA 104. Number 4. 471–497. (2004)

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Magyar Tudományos Akadémia