4.8 Education and cultural change

A successful socio-economic transformation from capitalism to green social democracy can only be achieved and maintained if it is accompanied by a corresponding cultural change. The battle for cultural transformation takes place through education, broadly understood as all the means used to maintain, enrich or change an established culture.

Education as a source of authority over others corresponds to a hierarchical society, such as capitalism. Education as a continuous commitment to learning and facilitating the learning of others corresponds to the achievement and then maintenance of a fully inclusive, democratic society, such as a green social democracy. Where the former is characteristic of authoritarian, hegemonic behavior, the latter is characteristic of inclusive, democratic behavior.

In as much as learning is specific to the organ of thought of each person, it is individual. In as much as knowledge is socially created and shared, learning is social. Education as both personal development and social development includes our engagement in transforming our social and natural world while we develop ourselves, and vice-versa.

The extent to which knowledge is socially created is evident in every language. Languages are the supreme social creation, continually developed across millennia and without which our individual and shared knowledge would indeed by limited.

Preparation for democracy, including knowledge of the democratic institutions (and, as the case may be, of the existence and limitations of insufficiently democratic practices) of the community and country they live in, is the right of all students and part of the essential content and method of education. Every opportunity should be used to engage students in democratic practice, including participation in informed decision making within their schools (such as class and school councils as well as mock legislatures and parliaments) and within their communities. Class projects and assignments that offer students opportunities to prepare letters, briefs and exhibitions for presentation in public arenas or to public bodies on issues of concern to them should be excellent motivators for learning and a means of gaining the habit of scientifically and ethically informed participation in democratic decision making.

The relevant science and ethical standards applicable to the issues students are considering need to be part of the learning of the students, including teacher feedback and evaluation. Whereas scientific knowledge is established by consensus within the scientific community and can be taught and evaluated as such, there is in this transition period to a green social democracy inevitably a debate within society about the appropriate ethical standards to apply. Teachers whose aim is to prepare students for a more democratic society, in which human development has priority, will give the students the opportunity to make up their own minds about which ethical standards to apply.

The development of people with deep moral convictions and behavior requires that teachers not use evaluation to direct students' moral choices, but instead check to ensure that they are engaged in developing standards based on reason and respect for others, including their right to their own opinions. The focus of evaluation needs to be on the quality of the research and presentation and the knowledge of relevant science and applicable moral standards in evidence.

As the process of transition to a green social democracy advances, a community consensus on ethical standards is likely to emerge. In the meantime, the moral standards associated with the market exchange of commodities for money, including the sale of a person's labor time as a commodity and the resulting inequality of income and wealth, will continue to have rational defenders (even while the non-market exchange of services and goods becomes an increasingly larger part of economic life).

Science and imagination are the two keystones of the educational system of a green social democratic culture. Science is both product and process. It is the knowledge base and at the same time the method for obtaining knowledge that a green social democratic society needs. The product of science is information, which in conjunction with the application of appropriate ethical standards, enables informed democratic choices to be made. The process of science is at the same time the method a democratic society uses to test whether its policies, laws, systems, and regulations have been appropriate and effective in achieving its ethical goals and meeting its ethical standards.

Imagination is likewise both means and ends of an education for a green social democracy. With imagination, learners can identify alternatives, develop new technologies and find solutions to the challenging problems they face. With imagination students learn to see the world through the eyes, ears, thoughts and experiences of others, see into the past and envision the future. Through imagination, they can escape the shackles of dogmatism and the rigidity of doctrine.

Human solidarity is an equally important aim and outcome of a green social democratic educational policy and practice. This begins with the recognition that learning is a social process. Cooperation and collaboration can be powerful methods as well as essential outcomes of learning.

Learning to see past superficial differences to the fundamental kinship of all the peoples of our communities, countries and planet, to our common experiences and interests, is necessary preparation for our common future on a single planet unified by a common atmosphere, shared oceans and connected lands. Solidarity with the people of the globe in common struggle against injustice and harm to our shared global home is central to school learning as preparation for a sustainable future. International solidarity is the distinguishing characteristic, both as an aim and a method, of an education that is preparation for a just and sustainable global society.

Connecting the classroom with the world outside the school is not only good pedagogy, in the case of the conservation of nature and related environmental justice issues it is essential preparation of students for meeting the most serious challenges that lie ahead. Teachers can overcome barriers to such teaching, whether material or moral in character, by enlisting the support of parents, school leaders and the community in this task. As experienced educators know, even when all the required resources are otherwise available, enlisting the help of parents, school leaders and community organizations is always an effective educational strategy, one that by its nature is inherently characteristic of any community that would define itself as a green social democratic one.


This website was launched September 1, 2010 in support of a green social democratic alternative to neoliberal capitalist policy and practice. The primary result is a work by Charles and Karen McFadden of seven chapters, grouped under the title, Towards a Green Social Democratic Alternative to Capitalism available here in pdf and html formats.

Below under the heading What’s New can be found the most recent materials posted on this website, including opinion pieces, book reviews, articles and selections from the 2017 edition of the main work.  For the interest of new and returning visitors, new materials will be included quarterly.

What's New


Authors' Preface

1.6 The epochal nature of the period we are entering

6.0 The socialism we need against the "socialism" of the 20th century

6.8 Additional concerns about 20th century variants of "socialism"

6.9 The people united!

7.1 Policy alternatives and political movements to advance them


Charles and Karen McFadden, Is revolutionary transformation on the agenda

Charles and Karen McFaddenHumanity on the Brink

Charles and Karen McFaddenMovements of Resistance to Movements for System Change

Charles McFaddenTranslating Green Principles into Education Policy and Practice

Charles and Karen McFadden, The Role of Revolutionaries in the Labor Movement


Charles and Karen McFadden, “The Shape of Water” as an Antidote to the Age of Trump 

Charles McFadden, Decolonizing the U.S. & Canada: The People United for a More Just Sustainable Future

Karen and Charles McFaddenCan emergent early 21st century neo-fascism be defeated without coming to grips with late 20th century restructuring of capitalism into a global system

Karen and Charles McFaddenA Dominant Capitalism or a Sustainable Environment? Why we can't have both.


William I. RobinsonThe Crisis of Global Capitalism and Trump's March to War

William I. RobinsonTrumpism, 21st Century Fascism, and the Dictatorship of the Transnational Capitalist Class


George HewisonWINNIPEG 1919 & THE COLD WAR

George HewisonArt Manuel - "Unsettling Canada

George HewisonThe NDP and LEAP


Albert Einstein, David Swanson, Jill Stein, Chris Hedges, William I. Robinson, and others Selected articles for Winter 2018



1.7 The dynamics of capitalism as a system and the limits of single issue reforms

2.11 The economy in transition towards a new deal for labor and the community

3.1 The challenge of a moribund economic system

3.7 Public banking: A cornerstone of a green social democracy

4.7 Economics and culture

6.5 Using the non-market economy as an opportunity to begin moving beyond capitalism


1.6 The epochal nature of the period we are entering

2.0 Theoretical Perspective: Defining Green Social Democracy

2.5. Socialism and green social democracy in historical materialist theory

4.3 Culture in historical perspective

5.1 Contrasting a green social democratic world with the currently prevailing, but challenged neo-liberal one

6.2 Socialism and capitalism as coexisting social systems


2.11 The economy in transition towards a new deal for labor and the community

5.7 Defeating neo-liberal capitalism: The role of social movements

7.3 Justice: Creating a just society, based on the right of all to a dignified, secure existence

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Creative Commons License: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) applies to all work posted on this website except that which appears with authors whose last name is other than McFadden, in which case standard copyright should be assumed to apply.