Amateurs study tactics; professionals study logistics.
Google reveals claims this is something said by General Omar Bradley, who I’ve long irrationally liked based on his portrayal by Karl Malden in Patton. Sounds a lot like Sun Tsu, who hammers home that an army should not outrange its supplies.
I *hate* the overuse of the idea of war – war on drugs, war on poverty – when all the name is meant to do is excuse in advance the excesses of our political maneuverings: we’re at WAR, man! This is no time to quibble over the rights of the people who are wrong anyway, let alone a few hundred billion dollars! That sort of thing. I prefer using the term war for actual armed conflicts.
Nonetheless, this once, let’s go there, as history dolefully reminds us of how bad things can go: if there is a culture war, what are the logistical considerations? Are our supply lines secure?
Those in favor of protecting and passing on Western Civilization – you know, Christendom – have long been thinking tactics. The acolytes of Gramsci and Alinsky and the Fabians in their sheep’s clothing (1) have been thinking logistics for over a century.
Meanwhile, those who wish to destroy Western Civilization control the logistics. They do not generally found colleges with the express purpose of creating good little socialist tools and useful idiots. Instead, they seek to control the hiring and firing of the staff at existing institutions. For a long time now, in virtually all public and private colleges and universities, they have been in a position of being able to force out anyone who displeases them. Anthony Esolen was forced out of Providence, a putatively Catholic school, for holding orthodox Catholic positions; they can force the president of Harvard to resign.
The enemies of Western Civilization now control what can be taught or even said in almost every college in America. They train people on staff who might be their opponents to keep their heads down and their mouths shut. Those who won’t don’t get the job in the first place.
Thus, apart from those 1,000 or so graduates who are taught to defend Western Civilization, the other 1.9 million graduates from the other 4,140 US colleges and universities are systematically taught to revile the culture that produced the colleges they attend and despise those who defend it, all the while believing they are members of the most moral and enlightened generation History has ever produced. They have almost certainly never heard their teacher’s ideas challenged, let alone been forced to deal with opposing ideas seriously on a level playing field. In my experience, graduates of modern colleges not only have not heard the arguments, they have no idea what an argument even *is*. Yet, they are certain they are the most broad-minded, reasonable people ever, even as they shout down and revile anyone who disagrees with the dogmas they have been taught.
To make matters worse, with very few exceptions, one cannot teach in a grade school without having passed through the filter of a college education department. There, future teachers are taught all sorts of interesting things – but anything that challenges the educational status quo is not among them. So, now, your 6 year old gets taught the undesirability of independent thought by the success-through-obeying-orders model, and your 13 year old gets taught gender theory as if it were simple fact – which, given the filters through which his teacher has passed, that teacher most likely believes is absolutely true.
Changing things is not a simple matter of convincing people things ought to change. The very people whose minds we’d need to touch have received 12 or more years of training in how not to think, how to dismiss those who disagree with them via name-calling. For this, they will be patted on the head and told how brave they are. The mechanisms – the supply chain of ideas – are completely under the control of the enemies of civilization.
Tactics versus logistics. The situation is only freed from despair by the knowledge that lies do eventually out, that truth will win given even a crack of an opening.
The Fabian Society is a British socialist organisation whose purpose is to advance the principles of Communism via gradualist and reformist effort in democracies, rather than by revolutionary overthrow. [ed. – because violent revolution is unpopular, not because they have anything against it in principle.]
An explanatory note appearing on the title page of the group’s first pamphlet declared:
“For the right moment you must wait, as Fabius did most patiently, when warring against Hannibal, though many censured his delays; but when the time comes you must strike hard, as Fabius did, or your waiting will be in vain, and fruitless.“
Things have come up. You know, things. So not sure how much blogging I’ll be doing for the next few weeks. Anyway:
A. Mike Flynn, who I am beginning to suspect hides a curmudgeon behind all that good cheer and erudition, posts about this delightful chart:
To sum up: adjusted for inflation, school costs have more than doubled in 25 years, despite a mere 22.6% increase in the number of students. Librarians – imagine! – are the only ‘instructional staff’ to have decreased in number – absolutely, not just in proportion to the increased number of students.
Commenter Sean points out that the biggest part of the increase is in the ancillary staff needed to comply with federal regulations that insist everybody be mainstreamed. Thus, where in the 1960s a school could be run with one teacher per classroom, one principal, a secretary and a janitor – a total of 3 people who didn’t teach full time – now the other people involved outnumber the teachers significantly in all schools.
This phenomenon of always growing staff provides a nice segway to a general observation about how you get, hold, and grow power: you need your guys in place everywhere you might be challenged. A clumsy or arrogant man might start by trying to replace those he cannot control with those he can. Somebody with the power to do something is very likely to notice this. (1)
A more sophisticated operator starts by merely making sure his people are there, waiting for attrition to take care of his opponents and making sure his people get the main gatekeeper roles so that he can eventually replace his enemies with his people. This insertion of loyal hacks is easiest to achieve if the pool of potential positions is growing – you don’t have to eliminate your enemies, just outflank them. Therefore, would be tyrants are often in favor of anything that requires more staff.
Only once this process is well underway does the would be tyrant risk out and out attacks to remove opposition. This is why education is in a constant state of ‘reform’, needing ever new programs and staff.
This is the state of education in America today. The ‘educators’ – a new class that didn’t exist until well into the 19th century – started by establishing education departments in the states and education schools in the colleges. Virgin fields, as it were, with no established power to unseat. At the time – first half of the 1800s – education was delivered by very many largely independent sources, from the one-room schools on the frontiers, to myriad religious and private schools in the cities, to the local parson who educated Jefferson. Learning to read from the King James Bible and how to cipher figuring bushels and pecks with daddy on the farm – these many approaches were how America produced the generations that won the War of Independence and drafted the Constitution.
As Socrates pointed out, charging to teach something any competent adult could do is fraud. Before you can even try that scam, you must somehow convince Grandma she can’t teach reading and Dad that he can’t teach math. Convincing American adults of their educational incompetence took over 100 years.
Within a generation, these new educators, from their positions as gatekeepers at the state and college level, began to insert their people into the newly-created and ever-expanding education bureaucracies. The cities fell; the rural school boards and one-room schools took longer. Subterfuge and lies have always been the main tool of destruction.
Which leads to:
B. This video is all sorts of chopped up – don’t know why – but in the few minutes here, John Taylor Gatto describes the process by which the education establishment mops up the last feeble pockets of educational freedom:
This is essentially how they destroyed the one room schools in the first place. Bait and switch fueled by outright lies. Seems a few remote one room schools still exist, and that the locals love them dearly. They can see with their own eyes that the schools produce better educated, more sane students and, besides, this is New England, land of town hall democracy. So the education department gets the school buildings condemned, and claims it will take as much to bring them up to code as to build a new school to replace them. Trouble is, that new school will be a typical modern school under the complete control of educators.
A colorful example: in 410, Olympius the master of intrigue had gotten his guys inserted into the leadership of the Legions in Italy. Sarus, the Roman Gothic general, noticed, and, not being too prone to overly subtle moves, gathered a 100 picked men and attacked an encamped Legion on horseback, getting past the defences and fighting his way through thousands of armed and skilled troops until he’d killed Olympius’s 20 or so men and those he suspected of supporting them – and got out alive. As a master of palace intrigue, that’s the sort of thing you’d want to avoid.
Started another long winded post, decided to cut to the chase: Opposition to free speech is a necessary and standard position of Marxists, for 3 main reasons:
Marxism relies for its truth claims on enlightenment, not argument. No one becomes a Marxist because a carefully-constructed string of logically valid and compelling arguments have convinced him it is true. Rather, one merely has one’s consciousness raised – gets woke – which really is a lot less trouble.
Marxists believe there is no such thing as human nature. (1) This is the bedrock belief that lies under modern feminism and gender theory, but is present in all critical theory.
Thus, Marxists do not believe in inalienable rights. Individual rights, insofar as they can be said to exist at all, accrue to a person only insofar as that person has attained enlightenment, which enlightenment is measured solely by how well their beliefs agree with mine, so long as I’m a Marxist. Not a Marxist? Then you have no rights.
The first point is nothing more than Hegel viewed through Marx’s prism. Hegel, after surveying the logical wreckage of the line of philosophies beginning with Descartes (2) and ending with Kant, concluded that no philosophical progress could be made going down that road. He did admit that logic continued to be very fruitful as applied to science and math, for example, but thought it doomed to failure when applied to philosophy. Thus, human knowledge was bifurcated: the little people, who were not capable of true philosophy, would continue to use logic to make the sort of real progress seen in applied science and math, while true philosophers would engage in a dialectic wherein logical contradictions are subsumed in the synthesis. In English, that means true philosophers are freed from the requirement of making any sense, but can just blithely plow ahead with their work, counting on the Spirit to validate the greater truth in which the contradictions of thesis and antithesis are held creative tension in the synthesis. Again, in English, the positions of true philosophers cannot be attacked for being unreasonable. That a true philosopher’s positions are self-contradictory is a feature, not a bug.
Marxists merely took this whatchamacallit – insight? Self-delusion? – and ran with it. You can see this rejection of logic most clearly in the refusal of Marxists to consider any science that contradicts their positions. Instead, science, when it contradicts Marxism, is branded a social construct and a tool of patriarchal oppression, no more valid in its conclusions than any other social construct of oppression. The irony of making such statements over the internet, for example, is lost on them.
The idea of free speech, as in talking things over or even, goodness forbid, arguing out positions, is utterly incompatible with Marxist ideals. On a theoretical basis, it will not move the ball forward on the right side of History to let the unenlightened yammer on about the ideas they hold due to their false consciousness. More important, on a practical level, encouraging people to consider alternative points of view, even merely as an exercise in shooting them down, is far, far too dangerous for Marxists, who rely for their power on vast numbers of people accepting their premises without understanding them in the least. They need useful idiots, and rational discussion will only make them less idiotic – and therefore, less useful. Sure, most of those people will need to be purged once the glorious revolution is complete. But for now, they are indispensable.
The second point falls out naturally from the first. Human nature is the name we give to that collection of characteristics that define what a human being is. This includes both physical and behavioural characteristics. Thus, science concludes that Man is a bipedal, omnivorous mammal exhibiting strong sexual dimorphism. This dimorphism is necessarily both physical and behavioral: men and women, as observed in the real world, both look and behave differently in many important respects.
A feature of human nature as defined by observation of actual human being in the real world is that there is a very wide range of physical and behavioral characteristics found in any sizeable population of people. Nonetheless, generalizations are possible, both globally and in particular sub populations. There are, for example, roles and tasks across all cultures that are typically performed by either men or women, and for which physiologically, men or women are better suited. This observation remains non controversial in practice to this day – except to Marxists.
To appeal to human nature is to appeal to a shared reality against which one can measure one’s ideas. That is a path down which no Marxist will willingly go, as it requires logic and moves away from the primacy of enlightenment.
Finally, given the above, there’s no way a Marxist will support and believe in a right to free speech. The only necessary and allowed speech is speech required for the promulgation of dogmatic Marxism. Everything else is useless and worse than useless.
So Marxist are striving now to label any attempts at open discussion hate speech, and are desperate to keep it off the college campuses which are their strongholds. The useful idiots – and I, at age 19 or 20, was as much an idiot as today’s college students – must be kept useful. Letting them get into the habit of hearing out non-Marxist, let alone anti-Marxist ideas expressed logically is about the worst thing that could happen, as it tends to make them less idiotic and thus less useful.
As is so often the case with Marxism, the vehemence of their reaction to challenges is wildly out of proportion to what they claim to believe. The revolt of the masses and the coming of the Worker Paradise are supposed by Marx to be the inevitable result of the turning of the wheels of capital ‘H’ History. So, what’s to get all worked up about? Don’t Marxists trust their own dogma? I suppose that’s just another contradiction subsumed in a synthesis.
With their rejection of reason and their lightning-quick resort to violence both verbal and physical, Marxist reveal that what they’ve really embraced is not a coherent philosophy – Marxism is hardly that – but a childish revenge fantasy. The possibility that other people are not outraged not because they are not paying attention, but because they have better things to do is, itself, something they find outrageous. There is also a very strong daddy issues aspect to every Marxist I’ve ever known personally. Still waiting to meet my first pleasant, happy-go-lucky Marxist.
We need to insist on and fight for free speech rights now, while the bulk of people have only unconsciously absorbed Marxist analysis and prescriptions. College student, who are not even aware that they have only heard one side of the story – and that their self-proclaimed betters are desperate to keep it that way – think the problems of the world are entirely the result of oppression, and that the solution to all the world’s problems is to simply remove the oppressors. They think this is a reasonable position held by all reasonable people. Free speech truly practiced stands a fighting chance of disabusing them of this nonsense. That’s why it is hated by Marxists, and why we have to fight for it now more than ever.
This is why one so often finds Marxists flapping their arms and flying to the moon, holding their breath for months on end, and engaged in other activities that demonstrate the non-existence of human nature.
Or maybe William of Ockham. I have not read him, but I hear he’s an anti-Realist or even Nominalist of some sort. Or with Luther and Calvin, who, while hardly philosophers, did start movements that people like Hegel felt a deep need to justify. Since the positions held by the great reformers cannot survive logical analysis, logical analysis has to go. Hegel just formalized the process.
There is a kerfuffle riling up Twitter subscribers to Patrick Madrid, a popular Catholic apologist, regarding Maria, a teacher facing disciplinary action for refusing to teach current gender ideology to the 7th graders in her charge.
Poor woman. While I wish her well and offer up prayers for her, I mention this here as merely a particularly current, clear and egregious example of the filtering that goes on with public school teachers. The system of teacher education in this country is designed to make sure people like Maria – people who have beliefs they hold more dear than even their jobs as teachers – don’t get to teach.
As Orwell describes in 1984, people are broken and conformity enforced by making it mandatory to spout lies. It’s no good getting people to spout nonsense they agree with – they might conceivably still entertain some loyalty to the truth, and merely be mistaken. No, one must be made to avow stuff one is clear is a lie – we have always been at war with Eastasia – to prove that one is completely under control, that one is no threat. But before that level of control can be achieved, we must make sure that only liars are allowed to teach.
The schools have largely so far have taken the ‘boil the lobster’ approach, softening their targets by making sure only those who are willing to put up with patently pointless bureaucracy and at least nod in the direction of manifestly stupid curricula ever make it into a classroom. I’m guessing the emergence of Trump as the (however appalling!) face of the Opposition has forced them to accelerate the program. Thus, the gender ideology that was fringe at the beginning of Obama’s reign has become central now. The shibboleth must be in place NOW, so the troops can be counted on to fight off any attempts at reform through the usual combination of lies, noncompliance and passive-aggressive posturing.
Just as good Muslims keep their ideology going, allowing and supporting the so called radical Muslims, “good” teachers are enabling the ideology that has been successfully turning our kids into ignorant, stupid robots for decades now. Lest we forget:
Ninety-nine [students] out of a hundred are automata, careful to walk in prescribed paths, careful to follow the prescribed custom. This is not an accident but the result of substantial education, which, scientifically defined, is the subsumption of the individual.
This wisdom comes from William Torey Harris, the fourth United States Commissioner of Education, from 1889 – 1906. Note the phrase “subsumption of the individual” – Harris was an enthusiastic Hegelian, and subsumption is a term of art. In a dialectic, the thesis and antithesis contradict each other, and the contradiction is not logically resolved but rather ‘subsumed’ in a dialectical synthesis – they remain in contradiction, but, in the synthesis they exist in a new creative tension that is revealed in concrete History to be true in some greater sense, the law of noncontradiction be damned (explicitly – see Hegel’s Logic).
In this case, the contradiction to be subsumed is between the idea that people, including children, have rights, among which is the right to pursue happiness however they see fit, and the idea that, in the words of Trotsky, the individual is nothing, only the goal – conforming to the successive unfoldings of the Spirit for Hegelians, the Worker’s Paradise for Marxists – gives any meaning to any individual’s life.
Harris, and all Hegelians and Marxists, needs to have the concept of individual rights eliminated – subsumed, in their usual dishonest and evasive language – in order to achieve the great future History they have been so privileged and enlightened to see. They thank their gods they are not like other men!
And this need to destroy the individual is alive and well TODAY. There was never a reform of the reform, where Harris and his evil ideas were rejected. Woodrow Wilson, an elitist, racist pig if ever there were one, was down with this, as was Dewey, a ‘can’t make an omelet’ apologist for the slaughters of the Russian Revolution, as were and are all the major gatekeepers to power in the education system. Gender theory is just a flavor of Critical Theory, which is just applied Marxism. As mentioned in an earlier post, Freire’s application of critical theory to education is required reading in all the prestigious schools of education. After the usual fluff, wherein Freire tries to gain our sympathy and tells us how much suffering will be alleviated if only we follow his plan, he gets around to mentioning that, of course, there are no such things as innate human rights, that people who reject and oppose Marxism have by that fact alone no rights, but that people who accept Marxism gain rights in proportion to the degree of their enlightenment. Thus, with perhaps a mitigating tear in our eyes, we can do anything we want deem necessary to our opponents in order to further the revolution – take their stuff goes without saying, but locking them away or murdering them are options completely on the table.
You want to be a teacher today? Chances are you’ll be required to study Freire by enthusiastic acolytes, and it’s a given that you superiors will either actually believe this or, at best, be exactly the kind of useful idiots such a system requires.
One may ask: is there nothing this dude cannot link to schooling?
No, there is not.
Reading the totally excellent and highly recommended Fall of Rome by R. A. Lafferty – maybe 25% through. Gripping as any novel and elegantly and wittily written, it’s how history should be written if historians want regular people to care about history. Just reached the part where Alaric, at age 17, is called from his schooling under the Emperor Theodosius in order to raise and provision 10,000 men and rendezvous with other troops in defence of the Empire – to a location over 1,000 miles away. He is given 6 weeks.
He pulls it off. (He had help, but still – 17 year old kid? Impressive.)
But today let’s take a brief look at the school he was attending. Theodosius wanted to ensure the future of the Empire, and knew such a thing would take strong skilled leadership. So, he recruited boys from among the leaders of the barbarian tribes, and brought them together to learn, among other things, half a dozen languages, civil engineering, military strategy, and all the requisite martial arts – use of the various weapons and horses – as well as instilling in them the idea that the Empire was a good and holy thing worthy of a man’s life and efforts. These boys were told that any one of them might be called upon to lead the Empire, and so must be prepared for war, peace, diplomacy and intrigue.
Alaric was 12. He spent 5 years traveling from place to place to see first hand how all this worked in practice. He and the other boys were instructed by a number of experts, including the Emperor himself, and well as Stilicho, the great Master General of the Empire. They were introduced to and made a part of the Imperial court and family.
It worked, at least to the extend of creating a cohort of extremely competent leaders. Alaric was himself the most outstanding of the group, but the others were no slouches.
I’ll do a review of the book when I get done with it. What I want to do now is point out that what Theodosius did in setting up his school is both amazing and obvious. His foresight and thoroughness is amazing. Once he had a goal in mind, he chose the obvious way to educate those boys, indeed, the only way to truly educate people for a particular role: immerse them among the experts in that role. This is how we today teach such things as musical instruments and car repair: learn to play or to repair by actually playing and repairing in the presence of experts.
Alaric was by all accounts a very intelligent and driven boy. By 17, he had achieved a level of mastery of languages, engineering, diplomacy, warfare, and so on very probably out of reach of most of us – but we’ll rarely find out, since teaching such mastery is almost never tried.
Rifkin trains her teachers to expect challenging questions from students at every level, even from pupils as young as 5, so lessons toggle back and forth between the obvious and the mind-bendingly abstract. “The youngest ones, very naturally, their minds see math differently,” she told me. “It is common that they can ask simple questions and then, in the next minute, a very complicated one. But if the teacher doesn’t know enough mathematics, she will answer the simple question and shut down the other, more difficult one. We want children to ask difficult questions, to engage so it is not boring, to be able to do algebra at an early age, sure, but also to see it for what it is: a tool for critical thinking. If their teachers can’t help them do this, well—” Rifkin searched for the word that expressed her level of dismay. “It is a betrayal.”
Rifkin doesn’t have an Empire to preserve, so I’d imagine there’s less pressure in her schools. Yet notice the key feature: students are having direct personal contact and even relationships with stone experts in what they are supposed to be learning.
These kids, and others educated in similar ways, then go on to dominate the world Math Olympiads for their age groups. Recap: math is awful, horrible, and hard, and we’re WAY behind the rest of the world – except for those taught it in a manner that is related to how people actually learn, who seem to both enjoy it and do it exceedingly well.
While math talent varies greatly among individuals, our school’s failure to produce many graduates competent in even basic math is not, I think, due to the nature of math itself. Rather, to see how it is taught in the standard schools, one would imagine the goal is to turn off as many students as possible to math. That’s how it works, at any rate.
Plato taught that true education can only take place between friends. We today lack not only the most basic understanding about how children and all people truly learn, the sort of intense, even passionate, friendship that has characterized great men and women through the ages is rare, denigrated when it does appear, and mocked as somehow unclean. Thus, it seems, even the more restrained friendships that should be characteristic of the relationships between teachers and students is rendered almost unimaginable.
Aside: another great thing about St. John’s Great Books program: a whole bunch of kids with widely varying degrees of math training and talent are all thrown together to study Euclid. In small classes (12-15 people) lead by a ‘tutor’ (professor) everybody has to grapple with math from an angle almost certainly completely foreign to how they’ve ever been taught math before. (Among people who have the hardest time are often those good in analytic geometry – the beauty of the non-numeric, non-algebraic proofs is hard for them to see.)
Even the least mathematically gifted student will have that ‘a ha!’ moment, when it all clicks. They discover that it’s not math they hate, but the way they’ve been taught.
When we last left our intrepid topic, the influence of Fichte and von Humboldt had overtaken Prussian schooling. The state assumed all responsibility for the education of children, and proceeded to educate them to be good Prussians after the imaginings of their betters. This worked so well that Prussian industry was soon the envy of the world.
Germans gradually stopped trying to kill each other once they were conquered by, and thus gained a common enemy in, Napoleon. In fits and starts, the Prussians gradually united the very disparate German-speaking (and sort-of German speaking – Frisians?) peoples into one nation, permitting Prussian military aggression to start enough wars that people eventually forgot that France had long been Europe’s traditional troublemaker. A couple world wars will do that.
But I digress.
Horace Mann became secretary of to the Massachusetts Board of Education in 1837 at the age of 31. In 1843, he toured Europe on his honeymoon (1), which doubled as an official tour of Prussian schooling. He came back a total Prussian school fanatic, and his 7th Annual Report, in which he pushed for Prussian schooling for everybody, was a hugh hit with all right-thinking people, and was published around the country.
Somehow, the Prussian Model was not seen by Mann to contradict what he said earlier elsewhere: (1) the public should no longer remain ignorant; (2) that such education should be paid for, controlled, and sustained by an interested public; (3) that this education will be best provided in schools that embrace children from a variety of backgrounds; (4) that this education must be non-sectarian; (5) that this education must be taught by the spirit, methods, and discipline of a free society; and (6) that education should be provided by well-trained, professional teachers.
(Thus we see the outline of how the assumptions and goals of Fichte are expressed by American education reformers: the public is ‘ignorant’; the government is ‘an interested public’; embracing ‘children from a variety of backgrounds’ mean making school compulsory; ‘non-sectarian’ means anti-Catholic (we’ll get to this in greater detail later); a ‘free society’, which in Mann’s day meant some flavor of libertarianism, is flexible enough to include anarchists and objectivists, and effectively means ‘however our betters at Harvard see the world at the moment’; and ‘well-trained professionals’ are Fichte’s schoolmasters, as explained in the previous post.(2) )
Wikipedia puts it thus:
Mann also suggested that by having schools it would help those students who did not have appropriate discipline in the home.
Hmmm – parents don’t get to determine ‘proper discipline’? The state does? Note that Mann’s plans were repeatedly voted down – until the Irish started arriving in Massachusetts in large numbers in the 1850’s as a result of the Potato Famine. These Catholic subhumans could not be counted on to instill proper discipline in their dirty Papist children, the reasoning went. Once that connection was made, the good citizens of Massachusetts made compulsory Prussian schooling the law. Irish kids could attend school or work in a factory, but could not wander about or even stay home with mom. That would be truancy.
Building a person’s character was just as important as reading, writing and arithmetic. Instilling values such as obedience to authority, promptness in attendance, and organizing the time according to bell ringing helped students prepare for future employment.
Obedience to authority – Fichte, anyone? An inquiring mind might wonder what kind of jobs require the ‘skill’ of responding to bells? Mann’s job? A farmer’s job? A shopkeeper or craftsman’s job? Hmmm – what is Mann proposing we train our kids to do?
Mann faced some resistance from parents who did not want to give up the moral education to teachers and bureaucrats.
Ya think? Just as it never seems to have occurred to Fichte that the state could ever be wrong or have anything but the purest motives, Mann assumes, not only with no evidence, but in the face of mountains of contrary evidence, that his teachers and bureaucrats will be more moral than parents. Only a backward thinking, unpatriotic rube would think otherwise. Some things never change.
Mann gathered about him many followers and fellow enthusiasts, who gradually became more clear and blunt about what they were trying to achieve through the schools. We’ll get to some of those next. Also, over time, early 19th century American right thinking changed from some sort Unitarian optimism to more purely statist Hegelianism, then, by the early 20th century, into Marxism proper, where it sits today. We’ll cover that later.
Since the publication of the English edition in 1970, Pedagogy of the Oppressed has been widely adopted in America’s teacher-training programs. A 2003 study by David Steiner and Susan Rozen determined that Pedagogy of the Oppressed was frequently assigned at top education schools.
So, if your child is being educated by one of the graduates of a “top education school” or any of the myriad of education schools which ape the top education schools (hint: almost all of them), there’s a very good chance that the education of such a teacher included this piece of unabashed Marxist – I gave up potty talk for Lent.
Imagine a young person, bright eyed, optimistic, and yet insecure, ignorant (which is how they justify going to college, right?) and desperate to fit in and get good grades. When an education professor gets out the trowel and starts laying this stuff on, how likely is a student to protest? Argue back? Call out manifest errors? How likely are they to even see any problems? They have been trained for years to please, not to think. Thus, our K-12 schools are full of teachers who think feel this sort of nonsense is simple common wisdom. Our children marinate in those assumptions – for 12+ years.
Thinking I should do a detailed chapter by chapter review, pointing out what Freire means in practice. He alternates, roughly, between typical Hegelian gibberish and nice sounding passages about freedom and even love. One who is ignorant, gullible or both – as is nearly always the case with the products of our schools (hey, they’re kids – I was ignorant and gullible back then, too) – might find his words sympathetic – Christian, even. Yet one must remember that examples from history – what actually happens, not the “concrete historical reality” of Marx and Hegel, which consists of cherry-picked items hammered beyond recognition into the mangled shapes of theoretically acceptable outcomes – tend strongly to contradict everything Hegel, Marx, and Freire say. Half-truths are the coin of this realm. They ape truth enough to fool the inattentive, which is always how the better class of liars work.
Here are some samples from early in the book (I’m into the second chapter so far; don’t know how much of this I can stomach):
While the problem of humanization has always, from an axiological point of view, been humankind’s central problem, it now takes on the character of an inescapable concern. (1) Concern for humanization leads at once to the recognition of dehumanization, not only as an ontological possibility but as an historical reality. And as an individual perceives the extent of dehumanization, he or she may ask if humanization is a viable possibility. Within history, in concrete, objective contexts, both humanization and dehumanization are possibilities for a person as an uncompleted being conscious of their incompletion.
Clear? If so, let me muck it up for you. Imagine you’re a conventionally-educated young person, with a fresh diploma from any of the thousands of institutions governed by the sort of people who inflict the above on more or less innocent young people: have you ever been required to parse out anything this obtuse? Do the terms – humanization, axiological, ontological, historical reality, concrete, objective, context, uncompleted, conscious (Hegelian, Marxist, even a bit of Freud eventually) – mean anything to you? Would you even suspect that they don’t mean what common English might lead you to think they mean?
Of course, these are all rhetorical questions. There is approximately zero chance any 20-something in America who attends an education school has any substantial understanding of any of these things. In fact, K-12 training (it will hardly do to call it education) conditions children to regurgitate what the teacher or test expect.
If they did, they might know, for example (3):
“Humanization” – this term has a history. Hegel views the world as always Becoming, never Being – being is dead, only becoming is real. Therefore, we cannot talk about a duty to recognize the humanity in another person – that would be to talk about Being: being human. If we go down that road, we might expect to be called to treat all people as human beings (not human becomings!) and imagine that justice would require all of us to have, for example, unaliable rights and duties to each other.
No, much better from Freire’s and Marx’s perspective if we think of human beings as incomplete, in their rights, freedoms, and duties. Then, we can talk about how to violate some people’s rights in order to get other people their rights without ever using those terms – which might, just barely, cause a twitch of conscience.
“Historical reality” – much beloved concept by Hegelians and Marxists. One might imagine it means “what is evident looking at history”. What it really means is “how history looks once it has been tortured into a shape determined by Hegelian or Marxist theories.” Those theories, in turn, do not base their truth claims on anything observable in history, but rather on special insights gained by getting sprinkled with the right magic fairy dust – something like that. Just know that Hegelians and Marxists reject out of hand that one should be able to arrive at their conclusions by rigorous and logical examination of the facts on the ground – nope, as in all religions, they claim “I believe, so that I might understand”.
“Conscious” – this is a measure of how much you agree with Freire, Marx or Hegel. If you totally disagree, you consciousness is ‘false’; if you totally agree, your consciousness if high or complete. If you are (mercifully) unaware of the discussion, you are unconscious. Thus, whenever these folks speak of raising consciousness, they mean getting people to agree with them, generally the unconscious. It seems the kids these days use the term ‘woke’ in the same manner. In such a world, anyone who claims to thoroughly understand Marxist premises and nonetheless completely dismisses them – me, for example – becomes irredeemably evil – I don’t even *want* to have my consciousness raised! (My consciousness is already raised way higher than theirs, as I explain here.)
More important even than never having heard these Marxist notions explicitly laid out, our education victims have never heard them vigorously attacked. They assume such notions represent the universal educated view – and their teachers will never do anything to disabuse them.
With the establishment of a relationship of oppression, violence has already begun. Never in history has violence been initiated by the oppressed. How could they be the initiators, if they themselves are the product of violence? How could they be the sponsors of something whose objective inauguration called forth their existence as oppressed? There would be no oppressed had there been no prior situation of violence to establish their subjugation.
Here we pull a neat trick, one very popular in modern Marxist thinking: Everything you, the designated oppressor does, is an act of violence; nothing I, the designated oppressed or victim, do can be violence by definition. Thus, a white person doing *anything* other than complete self-immolation on the altar of institutional racism is committing an act of violent oppression. Thus, personally being kind and accepting with no regard for a person’s race is – ready? – violent racist oppression. And inciting people to shoot and murder white policemen with no regard for the policemen’s personal behavior, or committing the actual murders themselves are – not violence, and cannot be. By definition.
Under Marxist and, indeed, Hegelian analysis, the Law of Noncontradiction (4) does not apply: something *can* both be and not be at the same time in the same way. The obvious violence involved in murder is not violence – because we say so. Oh, sure, in some *technical* petty way, blowing somebody’s brains out (or starving 20 million Ukrainian peasants, or taking a power drill to the heads of Cambodian children, or forcing Venezuelans to eat their pets, or refusing asylum to Cuban refugees) might be called violence by the small minded and those not yet woke, or otherwise laboring under false consciousness, but in the big picture, any means to achieving the glorious end is licit and commendable – and, per Freire, not violence.(5)
Thus, when thugs – excuse me, fully conscious individuals acting out of true fraternal love – threaten and beat people, burn cars, and destroy shops in order to prevent other people, people clearly laboring under false consciousness, from hearing wrong thoughts – well, only oppressors would call that the violent suppression of free speech! Orwell rolls his eyes.
In the same way, obvious kindness involved in acts of true generosity are not only not kindness, but are acts of violence and oppression UNLESS they further the cause of the revolution:
True generosity consists precisely in fighting to destroy the causes which nourish false charity. False charity constrains the fearful and subdued, the ‘rejects of life’, to extend their trembling hands. Real generosity lies in striving so that those hands – whether of individuals or entire peoples – need be extended less and less in supplication, so that more and more they become human -hands which work and, by working, transform the world.
I believe Freire here means to evoke the image of, say, English landholder in Ireland who, by law, had to feed their starving Irish serfs – or, if it turned out to be cheaper, pay their passage to Canada or the US. There is no charity in such an arrangement, just business. And the goal clearly was to do whatever was cheapest to maintain the English as lords and owners, and the Irish as powerless serfs. History (again, what actually happens, not Marxist hamburger) does indeed present us with a nearly limitless supply of such cases. Brazil, where Freire spent years of his life, would not lack for examples.
We are intended to see cases of true oppression by means of violence and the threat of violence at the hands of invading conquerors as the type of false charity. But: if you were to ask Freire (or any Marxist): what about the charity of, say, nuns starting a school in the wild, feeding and clothing the children of the poor as well as teaching them? That happens a lot, too. He’d say, on principle, that those nuns are acting violently to perpetuate the oppressor’s dominance UNLESS they are PRIMARILY concerned with raising the consciousness of those children, to make them into Marxist revolutionaries. So, feed them, cloth them, teach them to read if you must, so long as those are steps on the way to making them little Comrades who are willing to commit any act of violence-that-is-not-violence to free the oppressed.
But, boy, it sounds so cool with no context, striving so that hands need less and less to be extended in supplication. Sounds like a free market guy, even. But helping people help themselves is not exactly what he means.
A full review would be another book. Sigh. We’ll see what we can do, if the interest is there.
Not looking for pity, here – just read Mike Flynn’s excellent Captive Dream and his latest in Analog, so I’ve gotten a good solid fun read fix. I’ve willingly accepted the grim responsibility that motivates reading this other stuff. As those addicted to outrage evince, getting worked up does have its meager, transient and probably not good for you rewards.
An amusing tidbit: in the translation I’ve downloaded onto my Kindle, the translator uses traditional Marxist jargon – man, New Man, mankind – and, when referring to ‘the worker’ or the ‘new man,’ uses the generic pronouns he, him, his. The translation linked above is more recent, and so refers to New Person, humankind, and uses ‘he or she’ etc. Seems that even Freire himself, or at least his translator, was trapped within an oppressor construct, and his apparent good-will and generosity were self-serving delusions, merely tools of oppression designed to maintain the oppressor/oppressed dynamic. In other words, he ain’t woke. But: a still more recent translation, if such exists, would of course use ‘zur’ or whatever the heck made up pronouns the kids these days are using, revealing even the newer (2000) translation as socially constructed to maintain the current oppressor paradigm. I’m sure even now in a classroom somewhere, Freire is being held up as an oppressor in sheep’s clothing for the delectation of wide-eyed 19 year olds. And then the next translation…
Please note that this is a way high-level analysis. I know it’s not complete. What I’m trying to do is give a flavor of the sort of thing that will likely never get discussed, because neither the student or the teacher have much of an idea of what’s going on in the text.
The contradiction is suspended in the dialectical synthesis (murder of oppressors isn’t violence) of thesis (murder is violence) and antithesis (but I really want to!) – suspended, but not contradicted or resolved in any way accessible to a rational person using logic as understood by anybody who is not a Hegelian. Because Marx says so.
Dewey, an earlier education theory god, from his perch high in the education pantheon, likewise excused Soviet atrocities as simply necessary pragmatic steps – the only meaningful way one could say murder, even murders rising to the level of statistics, was ‘wrong’ is if it failed to achieve its end. (Note to the note: yes, I am aware of the dispute around whether Stalin actually said that line, but given his actions, misattributing it to him seems a fairly tame error.)