The Crisis, Part I
The Politicization of Education
Commentary for 20 July 2015
“We must organize the Intellectuals.”
- Willi Münzenberg
“I sing in praise of college,
“Of M.A.’s and Ph.D.’s,
“But in pursuit of knowledge
“We are starving by degrees.”
- Popular ditty from the 1920s
In Memoirs of a Superfluous Man, Albert Jay Nock explained that a monkey can be trained, but only a small percentage of human beings can be educated. He added that his students at the Ivy League schools were, in large part, monkeys. But is that fair given the bureaucratic nature of universities then and now? A bureaucracy cannot teach children or adults how to think. Bureaucracies can give standardized tests, and offer standardized curriculum. They can offer one-size-fits-all programs, and even “elite” programs; but everything is based on the law of averages, and groupthink, and a type of intellectual conformism. If Marshall McLuhan was right to say the “medium is the message” then if the medium is a bureaucratized school, the message signifies the bureaucratization of the human mind. The fact that billions of dollars have been poured into this kind of education, and that it produces increasingly dismal results year after year, testifies to a kind of mass stupidity – a readiness for intellectual shackles.
Consider what our schools now teach: The typical high school textbook features Senator Joseph McCarthy as the main villain of American history, and Martin Luther King, Jr. as the main hero. Very little is taught about George Washington or the Founding Fathers. The ever-present and subversive subtext redirects us to racism, sexism, and U.S. imperialism. Yes, this is the kind of history that is taught in U.S. schools. The Founding Fathers were slave owners, right? George Washington was rich, right? Even Lincoln was a racist. And if a high school junior knows nothing else about the country’s history, she knows this. A moralistic judgment about the past is presented, showing that our forefathers were racists and homophobes. In this way the past is discounted. In this manner a war is waged against certain traditions and sentiments, all presented in a one-sided way by educational bureaucrats. Of course, everything presented is factual – or mostly factual. It is presented, however, to students that have not been properly taught how to read. These students are never given the task of organizing their own ideas, since their ideas have already been organized for them. The facts used in school textbooks are carefully selected in advance, through a process of careful editing.
Edmund Burke once observed of the French Revolutionaries, “It is undoubtedly true, though it may seem paradoxical; but in general, those who are habitually employed in fault finding and displaying faults, are unqualified for the work of reformation: because their minds are not only unfurnished with patterns of the fair and good, but by habit they come to take no delight in the contemplation of those things.” The teaching of history has become a kind of tearing down of the past, a slandering of our forefathers. This does not help young people at all; rather, it hurts them. It disarms them before their enemies. It fills them with a vague sense of guilt. And as Burke says, it leaves them without positive inspiration.
Many decades ago, Jose Ortega y Gasset noted that the modern university “has abandoned almost entirely the teaching or transmission of culture.” And there is no doubt he was right. A gigantic disconnect has occurred. We have failed to transmit our history, and we have also failed to transmit our culture. The other side of this coin is the collectivists’ war against the individual. Shorn of our patriotism and our sense of national self-preservation, the individual is shorn of autonomy by a process of “dumbing down.” Those who are ignorant and incompetent must be ineffectual as individual human beings. Such people are easily manipulated by deceptive demagogues.
Robin S. Eubanks has written a book titled Credentialed to Destroy: How and Why Education Became a Weapon. She argues that latter-day public education has been purposely designed to hinder the intellectual development of children. Near the end of her book, on page 358, she writes, “Education in the 21st century is no longer an end. It is a means of domination and enrichment and exploitation by a self-select few. That’s why when you cut through the layers of [today’s educational] theory … it is always human consciousness being manipulated and modified via education. Education remains the ultimate and timeless cultural weapon against the individual….”
I was recently invited to hear Ms. Eubanks give a talk in which she said, “This is about political power. There is no mass prosperity when political power and economic power are combined.” And this is what the schools are facilitating in the mind of the students; that is, the takeover of the economy by the state. In her book she points to educators who are quoting from Karl Marx (in an elliptical fashion) about the collectivization of the mind “by converting the aims of the individual into general aims.” According to Eubanks, “That’s easier to do if the individual is only marginally literate with little factual knowledge.”
This is a terrible thing to do to the young, and it is not the only terrible thing being done. The attack on history, the cultural disconnect, and the dumbing down of the students, is accompanied by an outright denial of human nature itself. This is the part of the educational assault that gives the game away. For thousands of years philosophers have argued about human nature, but few denied there was such a thing. Such a denial is, in fact, contrary to reason if we consider the definition of the word nature (as given by Google): “the basic or inherent features of something, especially when seen as characteristic of it.”
It would be laughable to argue that human beings have no basic or inherent characteristics. Yet this is what modern social scientists and educators are taught to believe. If this sounds strange, read the blog entry of Rationally Speaking for 17 November 2008. It is titled “Is there such a thing as human nature?” – written by Prof. Massimo Pigliucci, a “philosopher” at the City University of New York. Pigliucci relates an incident when he was co-teaching a course at Stony Brook University with another professor. “At some point the issue of ‘human nature’ came up, and my colleague looked at me with a mix of surprise and pity; human nature, she maintained, is a quaint concept that has been long abandoned by serious scholars….”
In Steven Pinker’s The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature, we read how the academic battle against the very concept of human nature has involved “political smears” and “personal attacks” against researchers who uphold the idea that humanity has “basic or inherent features.” According to Pinker, “The taboo on human nature has not just put blinkers on researchers but turned any discussion of it into a heresy that must be stamped out. Many writers are so desperate to discredit any suggestion of an innate human constitution that they have thrown logic and civility out the window.” Of course, this is to be expected insofar as we are talking about a war that is being waged all around us. For this denial of human nature is not some silly academic game. It is indeed a war waged in earnest, according to a strategic concept which requires that certain ideas prevail. These ideas, it turns out, set the stage for a general assault on the pillars which uphold civil society; for as Pinker explains in his book, “The denial of human nature has spread beyond the academy and has led to a disconnect between intellectual life and common sense.”
In a psychological war, waged to overthrow existing society, the elimination of common sense may be understood as the negation of our basic instincts; first, a negation of the instinct for self-preservation; second, a negation of the instincts of husbandry; third, the negation of the instincts of wifery All these negations are observable in the foreign and domestic policies of the United States. We see it in our trade policy, in government finance, in the family courts, and – yes – in education.
The educational program of America today is a negation of man’s nature, man’s common sense, and man’s instincts. To escape the violence of chaos and civil war a country must have various institutions where legitimate authority exists and is exercised. This authority relies on common sense and instinct (i.e., human nature). To function properly a family requires the authority of the father, which is “patriarchal” authority. In terms of the national government, we may refer to the patriarchy of the Founding Fathers.
It is not for me to prove that authority has a sexual component. Ask any mother of a teenage boy. No further proof is needed. If masculine authority is denied, what happens to masculinity and what happens to authority? Do they collapse? Is the one castrated and the other neutered? To accomplish this, one has recourse to homosexual advocacy. For the masculine, by nature, rejects the homosexual and has – throughout history – been opposed to homosexuality which it considers “effeminate.” By normalizing homosexuality the natural authority of the masculine is negated. Once again, the tactic adopted fits the strategic end. The way is paved to revolution. Tradition cannot be maintained in church or state. It breaks down and all forms of authority break down with it. For all of them are rooted in patriarchy, and patriarchy cannot coexist with its nemesis. A profound anarchy and changeability takes hold of society as fashion supplants principle, permissiveness supplants discipline, and emotionalism rides roughshod over rational insight.
It is not a coincidence that today’s education produces effects detrimental to political and religious authority, to principle, discipline and reason. What is intriguing is the way that all these developments serve the strategic interest of a particular power and a particular cause – almost as if we were looking at a clandestine method for disrupting society. Would it surprise you if such a method was developed long ago by Willi Münzenberg (1889-1940) of the Communist International? “We must organize the intellectuals,” he told the Comintern. “We must avoid being a purely communist organization.” For in this circumstance many seeds must be planted in the minds of impressionable children and young adults. In The ABC of Communism N.I. Bukharin and E. Preobrazhensky wrote: “the Communist Party is not merely faced by constructive tasks, for in the opening phases of its activity it is likewise faced by destructive tasks. In the educational system … it must hasten to destroy everything which has made the school an instrument of capitalist class rule.”
Would this not entail the destruction of common sense, the denial of human nature and instinct, the negation of legitimate authority and civil order? Münzenberg believed that all aspects of society make up a new political battlefield. And the high ground of this battlefield is found in education; and this high ground must be seized at the earliest opportunity. The victims in this battle cannot see they are under attack. They do not know what a cultural weapon is, or how psychological warfare paves the way to their eventual destruction. Our leaders and our people believe that instinct is a myth used by reactionaries to preserve male privilege and its lamentable homophobia. Away with masculinity! It is reactionary! It is a threat!
“No shepherd, and one herd!” wrote Nietzsche. “Everyone wants the same; everyone is equal: he who has other sentiments goes voluntarily into the madhouse.”
The Supreme Court has declared that marriage is between a man and a man, or a woman and a woman, and unions of this kind are no different than the union of man and woman. This shows that the poison has reached the vital organs. And we have no antidote. In fact, we manufacture the poison ourselves and do not need the originators of the poison to continue making it.
"A little poison now and then; that makes pleasant dreams," wrote Nietzsche. "And much poison at last for a pleasant death."