Having dinner with younger daughter and her fiancé they came by to carve pumpkins, make caramel apples, and watch a movie. So we spent part of the afternoon carving these:
Four or five groups of kids have been by so far.
Having dinner with younger daughter and her fiancé they came by to carve pumpkins, make caramel apples, and watch a movie. So we spent part of the afternoon carving these:
Four or five groups of kids have been by so far.
As mentioned earlier, Clarissa made a valid point about engaging Normie: at this point, all you’re doing is feeding the illusion that there is or ever has been open, honest discussion of COVID, lockdowns, masks, vaccines, election fraud, and the constellation of related issues such as ANTIFA and BLM and the various acts of terrorism committed against non-Normies. Normie ain’t interested, and won’t be convinced. If he was willing to set aside panic and fear, pay attention and look at things even remotely objectively, he wouldn’t be spouting this nonsense in the first place. So, it may feel better to us to engage, but it is not helping things at all.
This is no longer a debate. This – 2021 America – is, as Clarissa pointed out, a hostage situation. One side can talk, if they want. The other side can and will destroy the heretics and non-believers, as soon as it can. They have already begun. Sprouting heresy to the faces of their mindless minions is therefore unwise.
Normie, to be clear, is just the guy who has swallowed the stories whole – not an enemy essentially, like a college professor of ‘journalist’, but completely taken in, and committed to staying there. Normie believes what he hears on the news, and is frightened by the prospect of thinking for himself.
Enough of what we can’t do. What can we do? First, maintain basic human dignity. Among other things, this means acknowledging, supporting, and encouraging those who are not buying the lies. I think that the resistance – perfectly good word, we should commandeer it – is basically pretty good at this, since we are much more likely to have families, go to church, and in general hang out with the people around us, than pink-haired nose ring folks, whose entire approach seems to be first: alienate everyone who, by nature, should love you.
Basic decency should be a principle of civilized behavior, but in this current vale of tears, it is also a tactic. I’m going to make supportive interactions – friendliness, I think it was once called – a more conscious practice going forward. It is a great evil that people have been separated, masked, and taught to fear each other, first before all things, as disease vectors. It is easy to get discouraged and tempted to despair, so we need to show friendship and support.
Then, in my circle, are many people who are frustrated, pissed off, and scared. They or people they know have lost or are threatened with the loss of their jobs, are being kept out of restaurants and bars, are seeing mule-headed stupidity among family members and (former) friends. Tell them you understand, we are fighting the good fight, and that giving in is only a short-term salve – we are still the carbon they want to reduce. Fight on!
Invite someone over for dinner. Shake hands. Give a non-Brandon hug where appropriate. Smile. Act like a normal person, with a strong preference toward those others likewise resisting.
And then imagine how and where you will defend yourself, if it comes to that. But, in the meantime, be kind.
Sublime, ridiculous, etc.
I am very fond of this 1984 movie. True, the effects are cheesy, many of the characters are tissue-thin stereotypes, and the script goes for the heavy-handed obvious many times. With a few very important exceptions the acting is work-a-day at best.
I don’t care. The pluses outweigh these minuses. The major plot twist, obvious in retrospect, delighted me and caught me completely off guard the first time around; the effects are woefully dated today, but worked pretty well in context, and the score is glorious. The rousing opening music sets up an epic space opera perfectly – and then cuts to the opening scene in a trailer park. The switching back and forth from the excruciatingly mundane problems of the trailer park crowd to the epic save the Universe! space opera is part of the disarming charm. Alex Rogan is an early video game geek who is unwittingly auditioning for the role of Starfighter, upgrading his dreams from getting into college to saving the Star League. Hero’s Journey front to back, almost paint by numbers, but done with such charm and wit that I smile every time I think of it. Yardsale of the Mind says: check it out.
The three key roles – Alex (and his beta unit), Grig, and Centauri are very well done. Let’s take them one by one:
Alex/Beta Unit. A young Lance Guest does the hero’s journey bit mostly by the book, but comes through when called for. His last step, where he finally accepts his destiny to be a hero, running through his equipment check before launching a “desperate battle against impossible odds’ as Grig put it, when he says “All right. This is it.” and you can imagine a real soldier facing hitting the beach or going over the top. Not handing out any Oscars, but he sells it enough to work.
It is as his Beta Unit that Guest really gets to cut loose, and is both hilarious and convincing in the role of his own curtsey replacement unit.
Grig. Dan O’Herlihy’s Grig is masterful. The guy is encased in alien lizard skin, which limits his ability to convey any subtle facial expressions, yet he manages to be easily the most likeable and hilarious character in the story. He compensates by being over the top with his gestures and bits. With his awesome deep voice, he can move from serious to hilarious instantly.
He gets most of the best lines & bits.
Showing Alex pictures of his family:
I live below ground… with my wifeoid and 6,000 little Griglings.
(The picture of Grig’s wifeoid is just Grig in a Mumu with a fur collar. Goes by in under 1 second. Hilarious.)
Centauri. Robert Preston basically takes his Music Man role of Professor Harold Hill from the Music Man – a charming huckster – and applies it to the alien Starfighter recruiter Centauri. He has a number of great lines and bits.
Alex, I want you to know that it was for the greatest good that I brought you back. Of course… it never hurts to be rich.[dies]
Preston and O’Herlihy are very talented actors, who may have been doing a little Alec Guinness/Star Wars thing, appearing in what had to be a longshot film. It’s hard to imagine puling this off with any other actors in those roles.
The other actors I mostly don’t hold responsible – they weren’t given much to work with. Maggie the girlfriend is – a girlfriend. The various character actors playing the trailer park residents do what they can with the parts. Mostly, it’s not too distracting, the exception being the ‘high school’ crowd of way too old actors playing teenagers, who just – don’t work. But, thankfully, they have very little screen time.
After this viewing, the main places my disbelief suspension system hit a speed bump:
Are you kidding me? Gun Stars and Zando-Zans are much easier to accept…
I saw it in the theaters when it first come out in 1984, and loved it then. Just spun it up on DVD and popped some popcorn last night to watch it yet again. My favorite cheesy film that is way, way, better than it ought to be.
Blogs, that is. I started this blog lo these many years ago (11? 12?) to have a place to put criticisms of modern science, how it is conducted and reported. I’ve had the horror of watching all the worst trends in science and science reporting converge and amplify to produce mass hysteria, panic, and gross political manipulation. We’re all gonna die! Eventually! Of something!
Plus random social and religious commentary. That would be Blog #1. Then there’s education history and the social commentary associated with that. That’s become a larger part over time, although opportunity and interest come and go. Need to get on this.
Finally, are my feeble attempts at humor and writing, music projects, home improvement projects, and on and on.
I do plan to split off a strictly writing blog as soon as I get stuff ready to publish (no, really! This time, for sure!). Under a nom de plume, via a VPN, on a Linux box, from a secure location. This would be stuff I hope to make money on, and so need to play nice.
For the education and science stuff, I guess I’ll keep it here until I can’t. So, two blogs is the goal, if you can call it that. For now.
On the weather front, we did get 5 inches of rain over about 48 hours, over 6” in 5 days. Some places got a little less, higher elevations a lot more. I made the briefest check into what the media was saying – I’ll shower with soap and pumice later – and, as usual, they were playing this as some sort of epic disaster.
Sorry to disappoint – nothing much unusual happened. 5 inches of rain, high winds, some trees go down, some people lose power, a few mudslides – same old same old. The only thing really unusual – storms like this, which happen every few years, don’t often happen in October. Much more a December through March thing. I’m sure that this week’s storm of the century will be forgotten by next week.
On the plus side, last year’s season total rainfall was 40% of average. This one storm put us over 35% for the season, with the rainy months still ahead of us. Yes, out here in sunny California, 6” of rain is over 1/3 of season average.
There are no more storms forecast for the next couple weeks, but we’ve already got more than we average through December. All this really means is the panic mongers will switch to something else. I am not willing to taint myself any further to check what nonsense is being reported, but I can guess: climate change! I’ve already read how this storm doesn’t really end the threat of wildfires, which only an idiot would say: landscape soaked with 6” of rain in less than a week don’t burn too good, especially with temperatures not getting much out of the 60s. Idiots gotta idiot, I guess.
Let’s round up a couple interesting points. This is all highly speculative on my part, I have little idea what to do. First off, from Clarissa’s blog a couple days ago:
I engage in exactly zero discussions with liberals / leftists / Biden voters / ‘democratic socialists’ / pandemicians / anti-racists or whatever they call themselves. I don’t try to reason with them, I don’t offer evidence, I don’t explain my position. I’m open to discuss shopping, recipes, weather, gossip, etc. But the moment they start on with vaccines, Trump, horse dewormers, insurrections, etc, I change the topic or use the bathroom. There can be no debate with people who hold the power to wipe you out of productive life on a whim. The very act of engaging in a discussion perpetuates the massive lie that there is free and open debate.
Recall that Clarissa grew up under the Soviet Union. Her point: we’re way, way past the point of talking this out. It’s like Mao’s Hundred Flowers campaign: people were encouraged to criticize the regime, on the principle that even the regime could use some constructive criticism. All Mao really wanted was to identify those who needed culling – and culled they were.
It’s not that, by now – heck, by April of 2020 – I had written enough badthink on this blog alone to mark me for culling. I’d assume the majority of the people reading this are in the same boat, have said too much. That train has left the station. It’s that those in the grip of the insanity are not in the least interested in, or even capable of, being convinced. Clarissa continues:
I’m talking right now about normal everyday people who have been duped by propaganda. The actual stormtroopers at NYTimes – these are horrid people working for a horrid organization. Only days ago they knowingly perpetuated the lie about 900,000 pediatric COVID deaths. This is a despicable thing to do but it’s one in 25 even worse thing the paper did on that day.
OK then. Confronting Normie is a non-starter. Got it. What I and mine have been doing: as much as possible, simply don’t comply. It’s that ‘as much as possible’ part that killing me at the moment. It’s not my goal to get other little people in trouble, especially churches. One thing near the top of Our Evil Overlord’s agenda: crush churches out of existence, or, at least, drive them underground. People freely attend churches, hang out and talk with each other, spreading badthink. Can’t have that. So, while I don’t usually wear a mask in church (in direct defiance of the state health authorities) I have one on my person, in case the stoolies are on duty. Oops! Musta slipped off there!
But shopping for food? Well, the sad reality is that all I’m likely to do would be putting some low paid worker bee on the spot to tell me to mask up – how is that different from confronting Normie? Not saying I *like* this, but that I want to get out of this alive, not make grandstanding statements.
That said, I’ve now gone to In-n-Out twice since they stood up to the San Francisco Cat Fanciers. Both times, once near dinner time, but once in the middle of a Saturday afternoon, drive-through lines around the block and walk-in lines out the doors and into the parking lot. Two different outlets. In-n-Out was very popular before all this, but not that popular by half. Is this a positive development? How is this going to help, other than getting people to show up at Tiananmen Square, as it were, the better to mow them down?
Or is it the scariest thing to our betters? To see people not complying? Sadly, I kind of doubt it. First of all, there is no uniform group of people doing ‘this’ – however ‘this’ is defined. We may imagine a conspiracy involving thousands, but that’s unlikely. A conspiracy involving dozens or maybe even hundreds -sure. But the major victory here is sidestepping any need for rational (however evil) cooperation: the Faucis and Fergusons of the world don’t believe their own B.S., but they do believe what’s happening is beneficial to them, and, since they can’t imagine otherwise, beneficial to the world.* And it’s what their betters want.
Years of training in bureaucracy and deceit (but I repeat myself) have created legions of such creatures. These Front Row Kids have learned to get ahead by delivering what the people above them want, and have driven any interest in whether what they want is true or good – that never entered into the equation. They have learned to hold those poor, benighted back row kids in utter contempt, for, to even acknowledge the possibility that those not playing the game might have a point about anything has been rendered unimaginable, far too emotionally risky, an attack on their own fundamental sense of self. We *must* be wrong! They *must* be right!
So the cake chart looks like this:
Now, there is not and cannot be any sort of consensus among such a mishmash. Even the top layers are at odds, fearing those above and despising those below, all wanting most of all to keep their positions or, better, to move up. If they do move up, they hate those at their previous level more than any others, if possible. Looking for clear goals and agreement in such an environment is a fools game. But I imagine there’s enough agreement among enough of the small group at the very top of this thing to keep the general direction clear.
Example: the top wants the ‘pandemic’ to continue. The level of bureaucrats, climbers, and suck-ups, including most especially the media, will execute this without question. There’s no memos needed -everybody in this layer knows this is the game, or they have already lost their jobs. Thus any good news is simply hunted down and buried, and any lies that promote the panic become banner headlines. (And, to drive sane people crazy, the ‘corrections’ are put at the bottom of page 23 in small print. They don’t care they’ve lied, they issue corrections as a way of rubbing their lies in our faces.)
And, finally, the Father of Lies is at the top. He will burn everything down, especially all the layers immediately beneath him, once he sees he is losing. And the layers immediately beneath him will enthusiastically comply! To their own destruction. And – here’s the problem – do everything in their power to take as many of us down with them as they can.
Strategy? Get the hell out of here. Away from the insanity, as much as possible. ‘Here’ being far too close to the bluest of blue cities in an insane state. Lay low, and ride it out. Homestead-lite. Dispose of the tech toys. (Except that Linux machine to write on, VPN, and? I guess I’m weak – should just go samizdat?) Provide a fall back for the kids, who aren’t as free to pick up and move – or don’t yet think they are.
Tactics? Working on it. Don’t engage Normie seems worth considering. I’ve long held far, far too optimistic a view on the reasonableness of the average American. This fauxdemic has been cold water to the face. And lay low.
*One of the more maddening bits in all this: Fauci’s claim that he lied about masks for everybody for our own good, saying at first that they weren’t needed and then saying they were mandatory. He establishes a principle: Fauci and his ilk will lie their asses off to us – for our own good. What they imagine to be our own good remains unknown and, on this principle, unknowable, because they would lie about that, too! For our own good! And yet – people defend him and comply. Sad.
Everyone is gone except for my mother-in-law, the cat, and me, the spouse and Caboose are out performing various duties and acts of mercy. Mother-in-law is ensconced in her recliner, the cat asleep on her lap. I’m running a old John Wayne movie marathon for her – True Grit just came up – over YouTube. Thus, I am free to ponder this period between storms.
Right now, it’s puffy clouds and a light breeze. Over the last couple days, it rained an inch here – don’t laugh, that’s a pretty good storm by NoCal standards. Approaching from the north east, due in this part of California starting around 7 this evening as it works its way down the coast from Oregon and Washington, is an ‘atmospheric river‘ storm, or a ‘pineapple express‘. We are told to expect 3 to 5 inches of rain overnight, across Sunday, and into Monday.
By Bay Area standards, that’s a LOT of rain. We usually have a season total rainfall through October of about an inch – this one storm is supposed to be several times that. Our ‘drought’ – a couple of below average rainfall years, such as we have had EVERY FEW YEARS THROUGHOUT THE RECORDED HISTORY OF CALIFORNIA was due to
global warming climate change, our betters assure us. I’m sure this unusually large, but by no means unprecedented, storm ‘ending’ the ‘drought’ will also be caused by global warming climate change. There’s nothing that thing can’t do!
More seriously, because of decades of mismanagement, we have had a lot of wildfires over the last couple years. A whole bunch of rain all at once is going to cause mudslides. This could get ugly.
California gets about 75% of its rainfall over December, January, and February. If this storm comes through as advertised, we’ll have 1/3 of our seasonal average before the rainy season really gets going. Could be interesting.
And there’s always the possibility of an ARkstorm. We’re high enough up that flooding would not be an immediate problem. It’s just the utter destruction of California’s entire drinking water infrastructure and a good chunk of the power grid, while major parts of the highway system are under water, that could be – inconvenient.
Many other distracting thing are happening at the moment. Further details as events warrant.
UPDATE: Bwahaha!! 50+ cars in line; I went inside where the line was shorter. I told the nice lady that I was here specifically because of what went on in San Francisco. Waiting for my food, another lady came up to me and told me she said the same thing! Other people nodded. I said “let’s make these people rich.“ Bwahaha!
I type invigorated by our weekend trip, partly taken in order to begin the preparation of our house for sale – needed to get out of Dodge so that the termite tenters could rain their chemical Death upon any little creatures that might be eating the place. But mostly, we attended Thomas Aquinas College’s 50th Anniversary gala.
Black tie. Every time I saw or heard that, I heard it in the voice from ZZ Topps’s “Sharp Dressed Man.” Suffice it to say, the Moores are not the kind of people who attend a lot of black tie galas. But we were able to put together a credible showing: I own an ancient tux from my days singing in large choir Christmas concerts (it still fit, 25 years later – I was a shapeless blob even back then!), we found a used tux for cheap for the Caboose, grandma had a very nice dress she’s gotten as a gift from one of her sons, and Mrs. Yard Sale of the Mind made an elegant thrift store find.
The Caboose, a fit 17 year old, looks fine in a tux, like it was designed for him. . Me? I can report that, as is befitting a garment designed to be worn to daily dinner, my tux was comfortable. The ladies looked very nice. We didn’t stand out – mission accomplished.
Gala was at the Beverly Wilshire. Nice.
The people of Thomas Aquinas College have reason to be grateful, and are. Two beautiful campuses, solid Board, thousands of alums, full enrollment. But of course, the whole point of this exercise is to send young people out into the world prepared to do good, to do God’s will. And in this they also succeed wildly. All the graduates and students I know think first of the Kingdom of God as they make their life choices. Not only is TAC a pipeline to religious life – Mother Teresa’s order, embracing poverty in the service of the poor, might top the list – but the many, many students who choose truly Christian marriage in defiance of the world, and even those who choose a virtuous single life focus it on God.
Of course, a side benefit of this: well-educated, moral people make great employees and workers. Many have done quite well, financially – which is largely how the College comes to have all those nice buildings and great board, and gets to throw galas at the Beverly Wilshire.
Supreme Court Justice Alito gave the keynote, and it was wonderful. He is a witty, self-deprecating man. His opening bit was to point out that, while the college had progressed wonderfully in almost every way, it had regressed in its choice of keynote speakers. This is funny, because the speaker at the very first kickoff gala 50 years ago was Fulton Sheen! (And speakers at college events include Mother Teresa and other future saints – so, yeah.) So, he, a Supreme Court Justice is a good as they can do.
Totally fun. Visiting SoCal – Santa Monica, even, and in October! -reminded me why I both miss it and don’t miss the Southland. Temps in the 80s, endless blue skies, the awesome Pacific in, well, pacific mode. Yep, this is why 20 million people have moved to SoCal: only about 300 to 350 days like this a year. But then, had drive around some, and – 20 million people live there. We only had to drive much on Sunday, the lightest traffic day of the week, and still had to deal with several slow-downs and stops on the freeways. And then there’s the hedonism, which we weren’t there long enough to encounter much.
Although we did go, with and on the recommendation of acquaintances, to an establishment called the Elephante Bar, on the third floor with a view of the beach.
As we were getting ready to leave, a clutch of young women entered and sat at a nearby table. Dressed to kill, plenty of skin, done up like opening night. On a Saturday afternoon. Yep, SoCal.
One the house front, I should even now be arranging for painters, plumbers, electricians and so on to do much needed fix-up. I also have to grade papers and tests for the History class I’m giving. And make a fair copy of the Gloria, and then get back to writing. Also also, I need to start applying for teaching positions at some of the many Chesterton Academies that are springing up like mushrooms these days. Seems like the thing to do.
Energy level: high. For an old guy.
We are heading out of Dodge for the weekend, the last time I did this with kitchen items it was fun, so, please add your ideas to the list. Items found in the garage that would make good band names:
Pipe Wrench: industrial.
Socket: goth horror
Grounding Wire: electronica
Sledge Hammer: Peter Gabriel tribute band.
Pull Saw: maybe death metal?
Box of Nuts: Club music? Maybe a novelty band?
Lopping Shears: punk
Breaking Bar: not sure…
Toolbox: eclectic metal
Crimper: alt country?
Hammer drill: industrial metal
Duct Tape: 70s cover band
This could go on forever. But enough about me – what do you all got?
I’ve seen a couple of those viral videos of parents standing up to their local school boards and making a stink over the latest outrage – critical race theory, gender theory, the order not to watch what the school is teaching their kids, masks, vaccines, the whole load.
One wants to cheer them on, but, unfortunately, those brave, well-meaning parents just don’t get it. From Day 1, however you want to count Day 1, parents and families are the problem compulsory public schooling was invented to solve. By standing up and opposing the ‘educators’ on the school board, all these parents are doing is acting out the role those educators have already assigned them: the backward, ignorant, bigoted hicks from whom it is the school’s calling to ‘rescue’ their kids. Those educators are not trembling in fear, or trying to see how they can work with those parents. They are merely seeing confirmation of everything they already believe about those parents.
So, those educators might try to silence the parents, but, more probably, they’ll let them say whatever they want, then simply lie by omission and commission so that they can keep doing what they do. Go ahead and rant – behind the scenes, those ‘educators’ are working with their allies to simply criminalize your behaviors. Private schools? Home schooling? Those are merely trivial speed bumps, to be disposed of as the one room schools and classic liberal arts schools were disposed of, by the patient application of endless pressure until they conform or can be eliminated.
Three moments: one, in which ‘the system’ formally collapses but the behaviors persist; one where the primacy of compliance over sanity is illustrated; and finally one where schooling stops but never ends.
In 1996 I was a college student in Ukraine. One day, we were sitting in class, the professor was speaking, the students were taking notes. Suddenly, an irate secretary from the Dean’s Office burst in. Interrupting the professor in mid-sentence she screeched,
“Everybody, get up and go out. You will be sweeping the alley outside. Now! You, too!” pointing at the professor.
The professor, a youngish guy we thought was very cool because he had traveled the world and spoke an almost fluent English blushed and started stuffing papers into his bag. Everybody got up. Except me.
“What’s going to happen if we don’t?” I asked. “This isn’t the USSR any longer. You can’t make us.”
“Get up and go sweep now!” the secretary bellowed. “Do what you are told!”
“No,” I said. “I’m a student, not a street cleaner. I’m not going to sweep. What can you do to me?”
The secretary looked apoplectic. The other students started shooshing me down.
“It’s OK, we’ll go, we are going right now!” they piped up in mousy little voices.
“You will go because you want to volunteer,” the secretary said. “It’s the right thing to do. The alley needs sweeping. You will go now.”
College students! The professor! All trying to silence Clarissa and get her to comply with the demands of a toothless tiger. Their training is complete.
2. A 16 year old girl who refused to wear a mask was handcuffed and taken out of school by police. Note: the police aren’t masked up; the students take off their masks to eat lunch. The issues is not some farcical sense of safety, but rather that a *student* dared to defy *school officials*. This young woman and her family and lawyer had decided not to put up with the bullying, and the school officials did the only thing they could do: call the cops and have a child handcuffed and hauled away. The option would have been to ignore her – and that would show weakness in front of the kids and their parents.
3. Finally, a personal story: two retired public school teachers ran an annual trip to Mexico so that high school age students could help build houses for the poor. There were usually as nearly as many adults as kids. Many of the adults made the trip year after year, even when they no longer had any kids involved. For 5 or 6 years, when our kids were the right ages, I went along.
The two teachers simply expected to lay down rules and for people to obey them – kids, parents, didn’t matter. Teacher says it, it’s rule, you do it. As you might imagine, almost everyone, kids and adults alike, went along with this without a peep. Except one year, the teachers decided that stopping in Tijuana on our way out for lunch and a little sightseeing was too dangerous, and so was not to be done. Well, one older gentleman, a guy who had run businesses and been mayor of his little town out in the sticks, who had gone on and helped organize the trip for many years, who, not surprisingly, was one of the most capable builders, he wasn’t buying it. Since my kids were catching a ride back with him, and he wanted to stop in Tijuana, he asked ME if I minded, AND asked my kids if they minded, and I of course said I don’t mind, do what you want. I can’t imagine a more competent guy for my kids to hang out with, I trust my kids, and the ‘risks’ of Tijuana were overblown, to say the least.
Well, when this got back to the teachers, I had to deal with a weeping woman asking my how I could have been complicit in such an outrage. She had told people what the rules were! The very idea that one adult simply does not have to do what another adult tells them to do was simply inconceivable to her – she was in charge! She was the teacher.
Note that nobody had any issues with any of the rules about safety while we were encamped in Mexico. We get it. We’re a bunch of kids and adults in a foreign country, so we want to behave well and be safe. But for years, a fun part of the trip was a stop in Tijuana on our way out to grab a bite and maybe buy some trinkets for folks back home. But this year, without any discussion, it was simply decided that it was now ‘unsafe’ to do what we’d done every year before. So it wasn’t a matter of the situation being any different – it was a matter of unsupported feelings that things weren’t as safe as they used to be. So, being a teacher, she just changed the rules. The very idea that other adults might want to have a say and would not instantly go along with whatever she decided brought her to tears.
Teachers are the first victims of schooling. They must be brought to heel, or filtered out.
Getting way long here. Wanted to start a discussion on the beginnings of all this, the mindsets of the people involved. Will limit it to two very early examples, and add more later as time permits. I think both these examples were in the minds of the later champions of state control of education – Fichte, Barnard, Mann, von Humboldt, Harris, certainly Dewey.
Sparta: At least the Spartans made no bones about their intentions: the family had to go so that the ‘free’ men could best defend and serve the state. Spartan children, if they passed inspection, were allowed to be raised by their mothers until age 7, at which point the state took over. Mothers and fathers did not live together, but were more or less temporary breeding couples to produce more Spartans.
Spartan boys were assigned a cohort at age 7, trained to be soldiers until age 18, typically spent a year or two spying on and terrorizing the Helots. They then became full soldiers at 20. At 60, they got to retire. Women were basically breeders, who trained the girls to grow up into the next batch of breeders.
A boy’s whole loyalty and sense of belonging was to his military band. Training was in loyalty and conformity. A boy had essentially no opportunity to develop any independent personality – and that’s the way Sparta liked it.
Despite that whole 300 mythology, the first duty of a Spartan was not war – it was to keep to Helots down. Sparta had conquered and enslaved the surrounding territories. Since you need a minimum of 8 or 9 people producing food for each Spartan soldier and mother not producing food, your slaves are going to outnumber your Spartan citizens something like 10 to 1. The fully-trained young men were sent among the Helots to make sure they knew who was in charge. This reign of terror over their slaves is what enabled the Spartans to sustain the standing army, famous for its bravery and discipline.
I find it difficult to accept how admired Sparta was by many in ancient world, and many people throughout the subsequent ages – but there it is. Sparta remained intact for centuries, but at what cost? Outside their reputation for military prowess and unbending discipline, they left nothing of much worth. Is that enough?
We live in a Sparta-haunted world. The image of Lycurgus reforming Sparta by top-down fiat seems to be a dream of our betters (if a nightmare for us little people!) By, effectively, removing the family from its natural position as the building block of society, modern would-be Lycurguses believe they, in their wisdom, could bring about a utopia of some sort – for our own good, of course.
Martin Luther’s Germany: Not passing judgement on Luther’s theology here aside from his stand on schooling and his relationship with the state in general. I discussed here Luther’s very un-Pauline habit of addressing his epistles largely to secular powers, who he never fails to attempt to recruit for his purposes, explaining what their new freedom requires of them.
Viewed from a strictly practical perspective, to make the Reformation stick, Luther had to overcome opposition from two main camps: first, from those German Catholics not buying his teachings, and second and more serious, from those who accepted his teachings too literally. The first group simply rejected the very idea of the five Solas; the second accepted them too much, so that they thought they, themselves, were as fit as Luther to interpret Scripture as they, themselves, were moved by the Spirit.
That sort of individual freedom of conscience, which later came to be associated with Luther somehow, was not at all what he meant: everyone was free to interpret Scripture the same exact way Luther did. To Luther, his was the only reading that was possible in accord with the primitive Church and under the guidance of the Spirit. If you thought Scripture meant something else, you were wrong. Contradict Luther much, and you were dead – at least, if Luther got his way.
Catholics were, for the most part, merely benighted. They could be and often were converted to believe as Luther did, and a good bit of Luther’s writing and preaching was directed toward that end. Other Protestants who accepted the principles that Scripture could be read and understood by any man under the guidance of the Spirit and acted upon those principles, yet failed to agree with Luther, were a more existential threat. From the very first, Catholics had been pointing out that, without Tradition and the authority of the Church, Scripture can be read in an almost infinite variety of contradictory ways. The existence of Sola-professing Protestants who did not agree with Luther on every point was a problem – for Luther.
From the beginning, Luther saw the hand of God in the support he received from German princes. For their part, German princes had chaffed under the meddling and arrogance of the distant, non-German Pope since at least the 10th century. Throwing off the spiritual yoke of Rome also meant getting out from under the political yoke.
Practically, any church independent of the state and making any spiritual claims at all upon the princes of that state is going to run afoul of those princes sooner rather than later, realpolitik being a thing. The solution since the beginning of history: states control religion. While they have been a spectacular failure through most of history, the Catholic Church’s attempts to stay free of state control is still one of the biggest outliers in history. The Great Schism – speaking simply historically here – lead to the creation of state-controlled Orthodox churches: Greek, Russian, Ukrainian, etc., all of which were firmly under the control of the local king or emperor, at least to the extent that the local patriarch was not likely to attempt to use his spiritual authority to dispose them- something Popes were known to try.
Luther ignored all this, and sided with the German princes, who happily supported him back.* Luther saw the support of the state as the hand of God, and so wrote to the princes and civic leaders under them to exhort them to continue to do God’s work.
Luther soon concluded that God’s work included compulsory state run schooling. He wanted every child to learn to read so that they could study Scripture; he wanted every child to learn to read in a state-controlled school so that they would reach the same conclusions from Scripture that Luther reached. The ‘risks’ of letting everyone read Scripture themselves and reach their own (Spirit-guided) conclusions were almost instantly apparent, once the Reformation got going.
Except for the few destined to be scholars, Luther and Melanchthon, who drafted up the original compulsory public school plan used by Luther, had little use for any schooling beyond the basics. Kids should learn to read, learn a little Latin, and then get on with making a living – all under the management and compulsion of the state. Clearly – and Luther talks about this – if you left such instruction to the discretion of parents, they would do it wrong!
When Fichte modernized Melanchthon’s and Luther’s plan 300 years later, he did away with anything recognizably Lutheran, and simply put the realization of the destiny of the state as the sole goal. To him, the distinction between the spiritual goals of individuals and the spiritual destiny of the (German) state was a misunderstanding, a lack of enlightenment. The value of the individual was the value that individual had to the state; the fulfillment of the state’s destiny was the personal fulfillment of the individual, insofar as personal fulfillment had any meaning.
And, of course, something this important could not be left up to parents. In fact, Fichte agrees with Luther that, left to parents, all the higher goals of education would get frustrated. Parents are the problem schooling is designed to solve. Fichte wanted to simply remove children from all family contact until their state schooling was complete. But more on that later.
* Today, the Lutheran and Catholic churches in Germany are tax-supported – the German Catholic hierarchy is the most likely to act independently from Rome on matters of morals and dogma. The German state has neutered religion – Catholic and Lutheran – in the public sphere, and has a choke collar on it financially.