Orwellian Euphemisms, pt 3: Modern Education, etc.

Modern Scientific Education is not modern – the basic ideas trace back at least to the late 18th century – has no basis in science, and is most certainly not education. Old-school ideological indoctrination would be a better name for it. As readers of this blog know, good old Fichte kicked off the current compulsory state schooling craze back in 1811. He took ideas from Pestalozzi, most importantly that the child needs to be lead step by step through a pre-digested curriculum by a trained teacher, never allowed to proceed to the next step unless and until his teacher approves, never allowed to study what he found interesting. He blended those ideas with what would be startling notions of the superiority of the German race – startling, that is, if we’d never heard of the Third Reich. But as mentioned here often, the particular goal, whether it’s a Puritan utopia, rule by the Master Race, training up useful idiots for the glorious people’s revolution or some other End Time fantasy, is something that can be changed with relative ease, once the mechanism of control is in place.

Thus, you get graded classroom run by state-certified teachers with state-approved curricula. Kids are thrust into grades based on age, not on what they know or are interested in – what could be less important, or, indeed more harmful than allowing the kid any say? Then, you make sure only state-certified teachers can teach them, very specifically keeping the parents out (1) of the picture, except as enforcers (homework, anyone?) of what they, the teachers, teach. What the teachers teach, what education schools filter for, is doing what you’re told. Ever notice that among the most common complaints teachers make is that they have to spend so much time on discipline that they have little time to teach anything else? The poor dears! They haven’t figured out that the discipline IS the lesson. Conforming, just as the teachers themselves did to get certified, IS the goal.

Curriculum warrants its own section of euphemisms:

No Child Left Behind: All children forced to the same low level of mediocrity.

Common Core: Elite fringe. Seriously, in what sense is Bill Gates, whose foundation funded this mess, shooting for ‘common’? In what sense are painful explications of one way among many to solve basic math problems ‘core’? (2)

Side note: once you start getting into the history of public education in America, one pattern stands out: how much of the public education project is carried out out of sight by unelected people. Just as Common Core was foisted off on people who had never heard of it until it was enacted, the war against parental control as manifested in one-room schools tended to be waged by nameless bureaucrats enacting regulations far from the public eye. Throughout the second half of the 19th century up through the early 20th, state level education departments were set up with minimal public involvement. Only people who’d gotten degrees from Prussian universities, or, later, only grads from the education schools those Prussian (Fichte-style) educators had set up, got appointed or hired. A homogeneity of thought completely at odds with the then-current American educational practices dominated. For example. This played well into a time-tested propaganda technique: make a change, or merely assert a change has been made, and answer all objections with the equivalent of stare decisis: this is settled policy! The time for discussion has passed!

Related image
“What do you mean you’ve never been to Alpha Centauri? For heaven’s sake mankind, it’s only four light years away you know. I’m sorry, but if you can’t be bothered to take an interest in local affairs that’s your own lookout.”
  1. I’ve spoken to parents who volunteered to help in the classroom, and even some who did – I’ve not yet heard of an experience that wasn’t frustrating and trivializing to the parent, and uncomfortable for the teacher. This gets tried because simply baldly stated the truth – hand over your kids and get out of our way – is, as yet, a tough sell to a lot of parents. Progress on this front is being made.
  2. I get it that she’s explaining a method, but that’s one of a bunch of methods people with some feel for math might use, each rather idiosyncratic. Once you get the hang of math, you’ll come up with ways to solve the simple problems like this one in your head – but probably not that one. The mechanical version is straightforward – why not start there? What, if anything, is gained doing it this way?
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The Epistemic Closure of the Left pt 1: Definitions, Origins

Below I start to work through some ideas. I’ll try to finish this up soon in part 2: Method, Goal. Work in progress. When working things through, I tend to write in a stiff, quasi-academic style which even I don’t like to read. Sorry about that.

Here I will be using a simplified, practical definition of epistemic closure, similar to the way I define metaphysics as ‘what must be true if anything is true.’ Epistemic closure is that state in which all allowable questions and answers are defined to the complete and summary exclusion of any other questions and answers. Just as in the case of metaphysics, there’s a ton of stuff easily available on the web to give you a perhaps deeper but certainly more complicated (and less useful) understanding. But here we’ll stick to the practical.

Epistemic closure

Simple hypothetical example: Say I believe the tribal gods are responsible for all good and bad fortune. These gods dole out their blessings and curses based on how pious an individual or tribe is. Piousness is a measure of how strictly prescribed rituals and sacrifices are executed. The sole authority on issues of piousness – on ritual and sacrifice – is the medicine man.

Something bad happens, say the watering hole dries up. Under epistemic closure, the tribesman will only consider questions around how the tribe or he himself have failed to be pius, and consider only answers that involve some sort of ritual or sacrifice, as determined by the medicine man.

Questions that have to do with lack of rain, overuse, events that may have transpired upstream – these will only be considered, in the unlikely event they ever arise, in the context of impiety. Answers other than performing some ritual or sacrifice or other pious acts as determined by the medicine man will be ruled out, if by some odd chance they ever are allowed to arise in the first place.

The key point here: other questions to ask or solutions to consider will never arise in the normal course of things. The epistemological world of our hypothetical tribesman is closed. (1)

Further, there is a risk to reaching outside the closure. For anyone to ask such questions or seek such alternatives is to declare himself not of the tribe, since not only our tribesman, but everyone he knows agrees with his understanding and all the unspoken limits that understanding requires.

Competing epistemologies: what is and can be known

We don’t live in a simple world of a single tribe. People are tribal (or pack, or herd) animals whose survival, naturally speaking, depends on tribal membership. Therefore, even though tribal membership in the evolutionary sense is no longer needed for basic physical survival in an industrial society, defining your tribe, which necessarily entails defining out other tribes, remains an automatic instinctual behavior. (2)

Some people, aware of the downside of tribalism, consciously work against it, asserting that we’re all people, all in this together, and need to look at what we have in common in order to get through life with as little unnecessary conflict and bloodshed as possible. Such people – and I count myself among them – cannot be understood by members of epistemically closed tribes as anything other than the member of some competing and hostile tribe, about which all valid questions and answers are already known.

My thesis here is that today, in America, the Left is an epistemically closed tribe with dogmas about what can be known, about what questions are allowed and what answers can be considered, and this closure is not an accident emerging from our innate tribalism. Rather, our instinctual need to belong to a tribe has been consciously commandeered to reinforce a certain tribalism and lay out conditions for membership.

A ‘scientific’ epistemology

The most open epistemology ever developed I’m here calling ‘scientific,’ although science is more a product than a source of this theory of knowledge. It runs as follows, as readers of this blog know:

  1. There is an objective universe, independent of any subjective understanding or feelings anyone may have about it.
  2. The human mind can know things about this objective universe, however imperfectly.
  3. Such knowledge is obtained when information about the universe is provided to our minds by our senses and rationally processed by our minds. The more, and more carefully, we look at the world, the more and more clearly we think about it, the more and better our ideas about it will tend to be.
  4. Given the above, it is understood that any of our beliefs about the world may be overturned by further information and thought. The objective universe may prove us wrong, in other words.

There are of course all sorts of distinctions, details and even mysteries involved in this epistemology, which I’ve sketched at a very high level.
(3) Be that as it may, it is this way of looking at the world that has given us all technological and scientific progress. I’m typing this on a computer and sending it to be posted on the internet – actions only possible in a world that is truly reflected in the principles listed above. Whether on not scientists recognize that they require and have embraced this aspect of Aristotelian epistemology – and they usually don’t – they could make no progress if they had not.

I call this an open epistemology because, at it roots, it acknowledges that it does not know all the questions and certainly doesn’t know all the answers. In practice, even the possibility that no answer will ever be available to certain questions is accepted. While any individual operating under this theory of knowledge is as likely as not to fail in implementing it in particular cases, at least in principle they know they could be wrong, the real world can prove them wrong, and they don’t know all the answers or even all the good questions. (4)

This scientific epistemology also provides a framework within which honest people can disagree and argue without the risk of being expelled from the tribe. Two people can look at the objective universe, think about it, and simply reach different conclusions, since what can be experienced by any one person at any one time may differ, as can the particular logical path followed. The appeal in such cases can only be to logic and objective reality; in the best case, experience and logic can be harmonized and tentative agreement reached; but it is also perfectly possible that appeals to logic and experience harbor too many unknowns for a question to be settled. Such disagreements are not fatal to this theory of knowledge.

The closed epistemology of the Left

The current reigning epistemology of the colleges, and therefore of the the fields fed by recent college graduates, as well as the social circles peopled by such folks, is completely closed. (5) Its epistemology is as follows:

  1. Everything is a social construct. There is no such thing as an objective universe, at least not in any way we could know it. Key corollary: any world we like can be created simply by creating the proper society needed to construct it.
  2. The only source of unhappiness in the world is oppression.
  3. The only answer to unhappiness is to change society so that it can construct a new reality that ends oppression.
  4. The only valid intellectual exercise consists of identifying an oppressed group, identifying how they are oppressed and by whom, and agitating for the overthrow of the oppressors and the society that constructed them.
  5. Feelings trump knowledge. Since the idea of an objective reality accessible to all, as well as logic itself, are social constructs, knowledge is replaced by feelings, only available through insight, enlightenment, raised consciousness – being woke, in other words. One is either woke, a member of the tribe and among the good people, or unwoke, an outsider and a reactionary to be reeducated or otherwise disposed of. Corollary: No claim of wokeness can be attacked with evidence or logic: the simple act of trying to use logic and evidence conclusively labels one as unenlightened, lacking insight, laboring under false consciousness – unwoke, in other words.

Origins

Readers here all know about Johann Gottlieb Fichte and his seminal role in establishing compulsory graded classroom schooling to create an obedient, compliant population more easily and successfully managed by the better people. Here is, as Paul Harvey might say, the rest of the story:

After delivering his Addresses to the German Nation as a series of lectures in French occupied Berlin in 1808 and 1809, Fichte was appointed rector to the newly-established Berlin University. Von Humboldt – Friedrich Wilhelm Christian Karl Ferdinand von Humboldt, not his kid brother Alexander the naturalist – was a huge fan, and, once the king had von Humboldt appointed to the directorate of education under the Minister of the Interior, he put Fichte in a position wherein he could best further his aims.

The context here is everything: educational reform was all the rage at the time. The better class of Germans, the kind of people who would, while under French occupation, pay to hear a 2nd rate philosopher give lectures on how wonderful and obviously superior Germans are, needed answers: how had the loathsome French managed to route their crack Prussian troops? How was it that clearly inferior French ruled them?

Because those troops were not as disciplined and obedient as they should be, Fichte assured them. Our troops were thinking for themselves, thinking of their homes and families and villages when they should have been thinking only of the glory of the fatherland! If only we could establish schools to remove all our children from the obviously baleful influences of village, home and family, and train them up to think only what we tell them to think and do what we tell them to do, why, then we could have the troops we deserve! We could resume our rightful place as the rulers of Europe and the world.

Thus, compulsory state-run schools which, by design, contradict and defeat family, church and village in favor of the state (or the Revolution, a meaningless distinction in practice). The success of Fichte and his acolytes – e.g., Mann, Barnard, Harris, Dewey, Freire, all those who see the schools as a means of using children to achieve the state’s goal (however thinly disguised) – is obvious upon inspection.

Berlin University was merely the prototype of phase II. K-12 will create the good soldiers and shopkeepers, mothers and cube dwellers, but we’re going to need a bunch of mid-level managers to keep it all humming. Thus, the research, or Prussian Model, university. Here was schooling for the brighter 6% or so of the population, already prepared by their primary and secondary educations to think what we want them to think, to prepare them to be “leaders.” We will pat them on the head, tell them how smart they are, give them degrees, then send them out to execute our plans: the plans of the that fraction of a percent who get to run things. (The von Humboldt brothers were homeschooled. Friedrich never got a college degree.) Many become teachers and professors, others managers and professionals, others bureaucrats. All, if successfully ‘educated,’ believe they are the most intelligent, open-minded, and moral people ever to walk the face of the earth. How could it be otherwise?

The epistemic closure of the Left traces back to this attempt by the self-appointed elites and the powerful to whom they are almost always courtesans to enforce uniformity of thought upon the little people. The mechanism is the schools. K-12 razes the family, village and church, to replace them with the state. Teachers, certified, employed and managed by the state, act in persona parenti, indeed, but more to the point, they act in the person of the state. This replacement of parent and preacher by teacher was specifically the method Fichte described. College has been remade into the mechanism by which a management class is created, to manage the process of homogenization and control. They are given to believe they are the leaders; in reality, they are merely tools.

One problem, perhaps not anticipated by Fichte or Mann, was that this mechanism, once in place, can be used by whoever controls its bureaucracy, for whatever end they desire. We’ll look into this aspect in part II.

Notes, pt 1

  1. For a related real world example, the ever-popular Yanomami tribesmen – and I’m sure they are not alone in this – measure how human one is by how closely one’s language matches theirs: the same equals human; understandable but not the same equals somewhat human; unintelligible equals animal. Therefore, only some sort of trauma, such as explorers with guns, will ever threaten their epistemology (whatever it may be) – they have preemptively assigned anyone different enough to pose a challenge into a category from which no challenge is brooked.
  2. Over the last 5,000 years, a few people, here and there, have worked to expand the definition of tribe, up to the point where some people refer to a brotherhood of man, or imagine themselves global citizens or other such inclusive-sounding phrases. Christianity took this as far as it can go by declaring all people children of God, which has the advantage of making tribal membership hereditary, prior to conformity to tribal rules. In theory, there is no out tribe of animals that may be killed – people who don’t speak Yanomami, reactionaries, Jews, people who could read. This ideal sits atop our hardwired instincts; general success is not to be expected. Most often, very tribal people functionally expand the definition of their tribe to include “everyone who does now or can be made to agree with me.” This is called “promoting diversity.”
  3. I think this simple formulation captures the gist, but Moderate Realism is not quite that simple. Moderate Realism holds that things like species do exist, not as immortal, immutable ideas a la Plato, but as that which characterizes all individuals in the species. Thus, the idea of horse results from having seen what is common to all horses, based, of course, on the individual horses we have experienced. Like most of Aristotle, Moderate Realism turns out to be common sense, once understood: what else, really, could we mean by species?
  4. Note that this practical, scientific epistemology does not exclude visions or miracles, nor any other way, known or unknown, one might experience the world. It simply makes no claims about such experiences, except noting that such knowledge, insofar as it exists, is personal, and can make no very strong claims on those who have not had that experience.
  5. I am not claiming that everybody from every department in every college falls into this trap, but merely that, in colleges and all social circles dominated by college grads, this will by far be the dominant ideology. To fail to comply gets you excluded from the Kool Kids Klub.

Book Review: William Torrey Harris – The Philosophy of Education, Lecure V

Concluding this review with the final lecture in the series. Lecture I review here, Lecture II here, Lecture III here, Lecture IV here. Going into more detail than usually is possible, including just pasting the the entire lecture below, because of Harris’s importance in advancing compulsory state schooling, and the lectures are short enough to admit of it.

This final lecture is also written as one run-on paragraph, this one nearly 3 pages long; clearly, these are outlines or note.

Let’s summarise our current state after Lecture IV: Harris believes all ‘substantial education,’ which he defines as the rote training and thoughtless inculturation every child in every culture receives, reduces the student to an ‘automata,’ careful to accept cultural premises and follow acceptable cultural paths. He tacitly dismisses the idea that a child could learn to think for himself, and accepts some form of tabula rasa: the idea that a child might already be himself, and thus not a clean field for indoctrination, is never considered.

In Hegel-speak, a substantially educated child has his individuality ‘subsumed’ into the culture. Such a one will have surrendered his individuality in order to belong. Harris then proposes a second educational principle, which frees the student’s individuality from this subsumption (while simultaneously not freeing it – hey, it’s Hegel!): learning to be an Hegelian. Only Hegelians, in Harris’ view, possess the tools to address society’s problems.

This second kind may be called individual or scientific education; it is the education of insight as opposed to that of authority.

Here we find the traditional Hegelian and especially Marxist abuse of the word ‘scientific’ to mean ‘untestable and poorly-defines assertions that I’d really like to be true.’ We know Harris means this, because he calls this an ‘education of insights’. Hegel places insights – direct infusions of truth into the soul, not subject to logic nor testable by experiment – above and beyond the reach of the little people and their math and science and technology. It is by insight, for example, that the enlightened Hegelian sees the Spirit unfolding and coming to know Itself through History. Thus progress is not a measure of net relative advances, if any, over time, but is instead Progress, a god-like force moving us ‘forward’. This is all very scientific.

Another aspect of scientific education is that it must be doled out a spoonful at a time by experts – here he echos Pestalozzi and Fichte – lest the child get the crazy idea that he can figure stuff out on his own, and become unmanageable. We see here the foundation of our dumb-them-down system that does everything possible to exclude or trivialize parental involvement.  Harris praises textbooks as the perfect tools to this end.

So, after the first two lectures, we are to understand that we all are automata except insofar as we’ve been enlightened, the sole measure of this enlightenment being our agreement with Hegel and his acolytes like Harris. Our schools need to be run by professionals, who alone are able to properly ration out knowledge, and who will take great care that their charges remain docile.

After an excursion through Kant and some more blank slate nonsense in Lecture III, Harris gets to the point in Lecture IV: the little benighted people need to be lead by the good and enlightened people, a sort of revolutionary vanguard, as it were.

LECTURE V. February 4th, 1893.  HERBERT SPENCER AND WHAT KNOWLEDGE IS OF MOST WORTH.  (found here.)

In Herbert Spencer, the return to nature means the study of natural  science, and this becomes the great thing. But natural science is only the  instrument with which we conquer nature. Everybody becomes filled with the idea of progress by it, for we see that nature as it is, existing in time  and space, is conquered by inventions and made to serve man. There was never a more unscientific book made than Spencer’s essay on education ; for while he praises science, he does not apply it to a study of education as it  is and has been. To do this he ought to study the genesis of the course of study and explain its functions. The unscientific person takes things as they are, and cares not for their origin. To study things from a scientific standpoint means to take an inventory of them to find the process in which  they are being produced ; to connect them with other things ; to see things in their causal process. He does not understand the system of education as it exists, because he does not know the educational value of its branches. The education he proposes for us is for the purpose of complete living; but  what is Spencer’s definition of this complete living? Spencer does not take education as the genesis of man’s spiritual life, but merely as something useful for showing how to care for the body and perform the lower social functions as the tool of life, the instrument by which life is preserved.

More specifically Hegelian criticism. All current action is to be judged by its place within the Spirit’s unfolding both now and in the future. I have little knowledge of Spenser’s educational theories and would likely find them appalling based on what little I do know, but Harris’s critique here hangs on Spenser not being Hegelian enough, which I would take as a complement.  Sure, sound education is first and foremost education toward spiritual growth. Hegel’s idea of spiritual growth is hardly anything I’d sign up for.

Now  suppose the definition of complete living to be, to elevate each individual so that he can take advantage of the life and experience of his race. Then  he would find complete living to involve the initiation into the civilizations of the past that furnish the elements out of which our own civilization is formed.

This sounds good, having children learn about past civilizations, until you see it in an Hegelian context: past civilizations are mere illustrations of the Spirit’s march through History. One would not be permitted by Hegel to dwell too much on how our modern age has in many ways lost the excellence of past cultures – e.g., Greek excellence, Roman honor, Medieval logic, Renaissance conceptions of beauty  – and failed to replace them with anything of equal value, let alone exceed them. Hegelians have no place in their schema for genuine admiration of the past, which is just prelude to an ever more glorious present and future.

Spencer thinks that the first business of the child is to know physiology ; the next is the selection of a vocation or trade, which leads to training for citizenship ; and last of all he puts relaxation and amusement, in which he includes literature and art. Now, Aristotle characterized man as the symbol-making animal. Human nature has to be expressed by symbols. The poets of a people first paint the ideal, which makes civilization possible. Literature furnishes the most essential branch of education, so far as its function is to help the child into civilization. Man sits in the theatre of the world (as Plato tells us) and sees the shadows of men and events thrown on the curtain before him. Behind him and out of his sight is the Great Leader, who is making these shadows. From them he draws his ideals, but ideals are potentialities, not realities. Self-activity, the freedom of the soul, is made possible by the institutions of society, the family, civil society, State and Church. We must not confound the mere school with these other great institutions of civilization. In the family are learned the mother tongue, habits, and nurture. Civil society teaches him his vocation; the State, his duties as citizen ; and the Church shows him his place in the divine plan of the universe. Spencer calls education the subject which involves all other subjects, and the one in which they should all culminate. But some one has better said that school education is the giving to man the possession of the instrumentalities of intelligence. By his school education he does not attain all education, but he gets the tools of thought by which to master the wisdom of the race.

OK, sure, pretty common understanding, although the glossing over of “church” Mere Christianity style fails to address the real, passionate disagreements people have over what constitutes a proper church. This, I suppose, would be an area Harris would expect the little people to be lead by their betters.

There are, then, three epochs  of school education elementary, secondary and higher. The first or elementary stage is the opening of the five windows of the soul. (1) Arithmetic is the foundation of our knowledge of nature, by which we measure  and count all things inorganic. When its first principles are mastered the child begins to want to combine the organic with the inorganic, and then we come to another window (2), that of elementary geography. The distribution of animal and plant life is learned, and the child begins to peep  into the organization of things, the growth of plants, and the formation of the continents and the earth. Thirdly, he learns to read and write, and gets a glimpse into literature. The original colloquial vocabulary learned at home, variously estimated at from 300 or 400 to 3,000 or 4,000 words, deals  only with commonplace things. But the school takes this colloquial vocabulary as a key and opens up the great reservoir of literature in books, initiating him into a higher class of words, expressive of fine shades of feeling and thought. Thus, to his own vocabulary are added those of great writers, who have seen nature from a different point of view, and presented their thoughts  in gems of literary style. Literature lifts up the pupil into the realms of human nature and discloses the motives which govern the actions of men. Yet Spencer puts this last in his course of study. After learning all science has to give, after learning one’s trade and the care of his body, he would then, if there is leisure, permit literature and art. But literature is the greatest educator we have. It has made possible newspapers and periodicals and books, with pictures of human life and of the motives governing  our actions. The fourth window of the soul is grammar, wherein we have a glimpse of the logical structure of the intellect as revealed in language. The fifth window is history (that of his own country), wherein he sees revealed the aspirations of his countrymen, his own nature, written out in colossal letters ; and these five studies should make the elementary education of the student.

Here the Pestalozzian approach is clear: the expert decides the child shall learn Arithmetic first, and not go on to anything else until it is mastered; then  basic Geography, and only once this is mastered, reading and writing; then Grammar, then the History of his own nation.

Well? Anyone who has been around kids knows that no two are alike, and that one may take to math like a fish to water at age 5, while another will find it baffling into adulthood. Lumping kids together by age, a barbaric practice championed by Harris and his predecessors, makes it certain that the first kid is going to be bored out of his mind and the second baffled and confused. Sure, in some Pestalozzian, anti-Fichtean dream world each kid gets all the attention he needs and moves ahead at his own pace. Sure. History shows how well the graded classroom model has approached that ideal. If education were the goal, it might; but since control is the goal, it won’t.

And so on. I’m old enough and, after a fashion, smart enough that I got left alone by the teachers for the most part when I was a little kid, because I either knew the stuff or could fake it. Now? from what I can tell, teachers are not allowed to let a kid skate on attention or classwork if he seems OK to them. Nope, conformity is demanded. Control is, after all, at the base and summit of Harris’s ideal.

The secondary education takes up human learning and continues it along the same lines, namely : 1, inorganic nature; 2, organic nature; 3, literature (the heart); 4, grammar and logic (the intellect); and 5, history (the will). Algebra deals with general numbers, while Arithmetic has definite numbers to operate with. Geometry and physics continue inorganic nature, while natural history continues the study already commenced in geography. Then come Greek and Latin, and here is opened up a great field of study into the embryology of our civilization. In the dead language* we have the three great threads running through the history of human progress. The Greek, with its literature and aesthetic art and its philosophy, showing the higher forms of human freedom in contrast with the Egyptian, which showed only the struggle for freedom and never the man separated from the animal and the inorganic world. The Roman, with the continual gaze upon the will of man, seeks the true forms of contracts and treaties and corporations, whereby one man may combine with another, and it essays the conquering of men and reducing them to obedience to civil law, not only external conquest but internal conquest as well. The Hebrew thread is the religious one, which we recognize in the celebration of worship one day each week and in the various holy days. We acknowledge this the most essential thread of our civilization. So, with the secondary education we begin to get the embryology of our forms of life.

As mentioned here, high school education at the close of the 19th century puts virtually all undergrad work to shame. Admission to Harvard at this time merely required a demonstration of basic competence in Greek, Latin and calculus – which a high school student who hoped to go to college could reasonably be expected to have achieved.

Harris seems to support this model, which is quite similar to what I went through at St. John’s College.  He seems confident it will produce exactly the good little Hegelians he invisions all enlightened people to be.

But what if it doesn’t? What if the vanguard decides good little Hegelians are good little Marxists? Then, understanding history, logic, scripture, etc., become positive liabilities if they don’t produce such Marxists. There’s even a risk a student who really learned this stuff might forcefully reject Marx! What if education leads away from, not towards, the glorious revolution?

Best not to take that risk. Stick with basic indoctrination. It’s the only way to be sure.

The higher or collegiate education is the comparative step of education. Each branch is studied in the light of all the others. Natural science  and sociology are investigated ; logic and mental philosophy ; ethics and rhetoric; as well as the philosophy of history and of literature, and the comparative sciences, which furnish the light for the whole method of  higher education. The first, or elementary education, then, is but superficial, a mere inventory ; the secondary insists on some reflection on what has been learned ; and the third, or higher education, is the unity and  comparison of all that has been learned, so that each is explained by the whole. Give the child possession of the embryology of civilization, and his insight into the evolution of civilization is insured.

“Insight” – and there you have it. Harris is naively confident this insight is Hegelian. His Marxist successors excised all the basic stuff because they more wisely understood that all this education could, from their view, go terribly wrong.

Educators have  adopted the course of study as it exists, led by an unconscious or blind  impulse. Herbert Spencer should have investigated and discovered its purpose, which is a far deeper one than he has thought out when he advocates its overthrow for the sake of knowledge that leads to direct self-preservation.

“…led by an unconscious or blind  impulse. ” More Hegel, the Spirit unfolding itself despite men not being aware of what is happening.

  1. Rosenkranz: Paedagogik als System (English Translation, D. Appleton it Co., New York). Third part, treating of the substantial contents of the national education Its sacred books, and the idea that the nation stands for in the history of the world. (Lec ture 1.)
  2. Karl Schmidt : Geschichte der Paedagogik ; gives a much fuller statement of the details of the culture systems of the several nations. (Lecture 1.)
  3. R. H. Quick ; Educational Reformers. (Lectures 2, 3, 4, and 5.)
  4. Pestalozzi : Lienhard und Gertrud. (English Translation, Boston.) (Lectures.)
  5. Herbart; Lehrbuch zur Psychologie. (English translation, tfno York). (Lectures.)
  6. Rousseau : Emile. (Lecture 4.)
  7. Herbert Spencer ; Essay on Education. (Lectures.)

An Epidemic of Diagnosis Revisited, Sort Of

Walker Percy, Lost in the Cosmos

I was pretty sure I’d written about this 2007 essay in the NYT, but evidently not, according to a search of blog archives. In it, a doctor points out something that should be obvious: as we add more healthcare to our lives, we are going to get more of what healthcare produces. He notes that what healthcare produces is not health, but diagnoses. Healthcare professionals are in the business, first and foremost, of telling us what is wrong with us. Only once we’ve been diagnosed can the wheels of the machinery of the healthcare system turn.

Improvements in healthcare have helped us to generally have longer, healthier lives than at any point in history. Not as much as the real, if unromantic, big three of plenty of food, clean water and good sanitation. Get those three right – and avoid wars, but these things go together in practice – and people start generally living pretty long lives, long enough to die from old people causes like cancer and heart disease instead of dysentery and rickets.

We have more healthcare, the largest, most expensive healthcare system in history, because we’ve demanded, in the literal and economic senses, more healthcare. We’re loath to admit the human body is simply too complex and fragile, too prone to break down and suffer injury and disease, for lifelong health to be anything other than a stroke of luck or a blessing, and even more loath to come to grips with the inevitability of death. Nope, we ignore all experience, and come to think vigorous good health is what we deserve, and that something is horribly wrong if we don’t get it. We demand, pounding our little feet and throwing haystacks of cash, that Science cure cancer, prevent diseases and in general fix any and every problem we have.

We demand: Tell me what’s wrong, then FIX IT! We’ve learned, from our car mechanic if nowhere else, that sometimes it’s hard to figure out what’s wrong. We’ve internalized the reality that, sometimes, a diagnosis is just an opinion among many possible opinions. We’ve learned to seek a second or third or fourth opinion until we find one we like.

We have not learned, it seems, to distrust the diagnostic process itself.

If this is true of mundane things like cars and the human body, it is much more true of the difficult and subtle human mind and soul. We desperately seek a diagnosis, which, when we get one we like, becomes our identity. In English, we even say: I *am* on the spectrum; I *am* depressed, or gay, or transgender, or oppressed, or a million other things. To attack our diagnosis is to attack us. We are our diagnoses.

Listen for it: so often, these days, we will hear a person’s diagnosis within minutes of meeting them. “I’m a *blank*” As if *blank* is the key information, as in, it unlocks and settles everything.

As the Percy quotation above shows, in his inimical style, this need to have someone else tell us who we are is so pervasive and compelling that many millions of us turn to astrology (1) or worse just to get our diagnosis. What the diagnosis is, as he demonstrates, matters far less than that we have one. We are so lost in the cosmos that we’ll cling to anything to stay afloat, anything to distract us from facing the brutal reality of who we really are.

If only this self-delusion were the worst of it. The real killer diagnoses are projection and protection. In the first, rather than engaging with those we disagree with or otherwise find unpleasant or in any way disconcerting, we diagnose them as having a disorder that prescribes summary dismissal: they are only saying that or behaving that way because they are *blank* – religious, conservative, liberal, stupid, evil, etc. (Note that it’s the prescription that makes this a diagnostic ritual: if you simply observe someone is promoting progressive ideas, say, BUT do not use that as an excuse to not engage with them, that’s just basic intellectual awareness.)

Even worse, as mentioned under point 3 in the last post, is the diagnosis of others that lets us off the hook: my child *IS* ADHD, therefore drugs and your acceptance are the only answers. No fair looking at his home life or parental and school expectations that make demands upon the kid that he’s not interested in fulfilling and cause him massive stress – nope, it’s drugs and acceptance, AND THAT’S FINAL! (2)

But of course it’s the gender dysphoria diagnosis that’s the real killer – literally, given the suicide and self-harm rates among those confused about their sexual identity. It’s the parents who love that diagnosis, because now everything is known, the prescription is complete, and every future problem is accounted for in advance. And no finger is ever allowed to be pointed at me, no matter how chaotic and emotionally abusive my serial polygamy or just plain rutting around is for my kid. Nope, we must bless and worship his confusion, so that even he embraces the insanity. Just so long as I’m off the hook.

Marxist social criticism at its best, destroying lives, sowing unhappiness and using the weakest and most damaged among us for their political ends. Not to mention promulgating some of the stupidest ideas known to man.

  1. Have to tell this off topic story: in my early 20s, somehow got dragged into a panel discussion of astrology, as the token Thomist (I wish). So I did research – Thomas does address astrology in an interesting way – and gave my little spiel (and that’s yet another story). Afterwards, at a party at St. John’s (lived in the neighborhood), I mentioned that I’d done a bunch of research on astrology for this talk, noted that Thomas doesn’t summarily dismiss it, and an attractive young woman I barely knew said: really? What sign am I? Somehow, I managed to deadpan a reply using appropriate astrological bafflegab, after which I answered: therefore, you’re an Aquarius (or whatever). I guessed right. Her mind was blown. I managed to keep my straight face, knowing that I would be right about 8% of the time, and had gotten lucky. Not ‘lucky’ lucky – you know what I mean, get your mind out of the gutter!
  2. Mandatory disclaimer: there very well might be something to ADHD diagnoses, I don’t know, but there’s certainly something to ADHD over-diagnoses.

No to Gender Theory: 3 Reasons

Still beating myself up over having done such a woefully poor job stating the rational reasons why anyone of good will and sound mind should reject Gender Theory. So, assuming there are people willing to consider being swayed in their support for this bit of carefully-constructed propaganda
by reasonable arguments (both such posited people are hanging with Sasquatch on the shores of Loch Ness, one imagines), here we go, from simplest and most obvious to more complex and subtle:

1 The policy of gender affirmation – of affirming anyone’s stated gender with no questions asked or even allowed – is built on the more general principle that a person’s identity is something he and he alone can define. Appeals to anything outside the individual’s own feelings about who he is are a clear form of oppression, and must always be opposed.

Thus, if a little girl says she’s a boy, she IS a boy, and her subjective feelings about her gender have created objective moral and legal obligations on everyone else: I MUST affirm her feelings; I am subject to legal consequences if I don’t.

This much is clear, and is the claim routinely made by gender theorists. But the principle – that a person’s identity is something he and he alone can define – cannot reasonably be confined to gender. If gender is a social construct, then so is everything else. This much is also routinely confirmed by gender theorists: everything is a social construct.

Therefore, if the little girl were to assert that she is not only a boy, but a fat boy, we likewise have no moral option but to affirm it. To disagree would be to make an appeal to objective reality, and such appeals have already been ruled out when we mandate affirmation of her assertion she is a boy. Body image is a social construct, after all. Thus, we can only affirm that this little girl is now a fat boy. To do otherwise would be hateful and oppressive.

In my experience, this is exactly what children of all ages feel is the correct response: the little wisp of a girl is now a fat boy. Period.

Now the fat boy announces that since he is a fat boy, he is going to the bathroom to puke up his lunch. Well? If you object based on objective reality, noting that it’s bad for you to puke up you lunch, the fat boy can simply reply that, as a fat boy, it’s not bad for him and besides, who are you to judge? Health, after all, is a social construct.

Finally, the fat boy says he finds life too tiresome to endure, and so wants to kill himself. On what basis could a gender theorist possibly object? On what basis could any argument be made that wanting to kill yourself is anything other than a sacred act of self-definition, just like gender and body image and health? A preference for life over death is the ultimate social construct: if we won’t argue with grandma when she seeks assisted suicide, how can we argue with an 8 year old who wants to die? To even try to dissuade him is an act of violence, oppression and hate.

Gender affirmation leads inescapably to the demand that all affirm and support a child’s wish to kill himself. To this, all reasonable people should object. Encouraging and helping children to kill themselves is monstrous. Nor is this a theoretical issue, as all statistics show a very much heightened incidents of suicide and attempted suicide and other self-destructive behaviors among children suffering under confusion about their sexual identity. Sane and loving adults try to help such children find reasons to live; a logically consistent gender theorist would necessarily find ways to help them die.

2 Background: when Fichte, who laid the philosophical and political foundation for modern compulsory graded classroom schooling back in 1811, asserted that the goal of schooling is to render the student incapable of thinking anything his teacher didn’t want him to think, he found instant enthusiastic acceptance among the ruling and managerial classes of Prussia, who promptly set about implementing Fichte’s ideas. When William Torrey Harris, U.S. Commissioner of Education 1889 – 1906, stated that 99 out of a 100 students are automata, and that this was the result of substantial education scientifically understood, he was not expressing a hope, but stating a *fact*.

What our schooling – public, and all private that uses graded classrooms – is intended to do is establish what might technically be called ‘epistemic closure’. The teacher, and much more importantly, the structure of the schools build and reinforce the feeling that success is gotten primarily by doing what you are told and secondarily by regurgitating what you’ve been taught. Failure is much more linked to failing to conform – to bells, lines, schedules, and arbitrary commands – than to learning anything. Troublemakers are not those who don’t do their Spanish homework, but rather they’re the ones who get up to use the restroom without asking permission.

This inculcation of mindless conformity is the whole point of schooling, as Fichte, Mann, Dewey, Freire, and all the fine graduates of education schools understood and understand, albeit the idea is typically dressed in bafflegab and diversions. For example, Freire, who is required reading in all the better education schools, states flatly that the goal of education is to ‘radicalize the student’. Learning anything concrete, things that might even better their lives, is not irrelevant, but positively counterproductive.

A radicalized student has achieved perfect epistemic closure. His every thought is shaped by what he has learned in school – he cannot even think anything his teacher would not want him to think. All allowable questions have been formulated; all possible answers have been defined. When faced with an opinion that denies his assumption, with questions that lie outside the closure, with answers or, worse, results that fail to conform to the prescribed schema, the only possible reactions are confusion and anger.

One sees this state all the time. People will say they ‘don’t understand” positions they have spent exactly zero time and effort trying to understand; name calling, often vile, is used to answer challenges. Finally, an concerted effort is made to silence those who dare challenge the closure.

Gender theory exists entirely within the epistemic closure now enforced in all colleges and universities (with negligibly minor exceptions), and, by extension, in all professions and polite pseudo-educated circles in their orbits. This fact is of course completely invisible to those within the closure, as is the fact that nobody outside the closure accepts gender theory. There are 1.4 billion Indians and a similar number of Chinese, as well as another billion total Africans and South Americans. There’s another billion plus across Southeast Asia, not to mention 1.6 billion Muslims. My rough math, and allowing for some overlap, suggests that 5 and a half billion out of 7 billion people on earth either have never heard of gender theory or, if they have, laughed or cursed it off the stage. Then, even in Western Europe, America, Canada and Australia, it’s likely a small minority who really embrace it – many people may roll their eyes and go along, but they have yet to feel the enforcement arm. Their day is coming.

Because people within the closure accept it not on the basis of argument, but because it’s what their teachers, broadly understood, have trained them to accept, the vast majority of people under the spell will have no idea and less interest in where their ideas come from or where they lead. It would be a miracle if any even listened to the following very straightforward and easily confirmable (Google, anyone? Wiki-freakin’-pedia?) account of the origins of Gender Theory.

That’s the background. Now for the facts.

Gender Theory is a sub-discipline of Critical Theory: Wikipedia has gotten increasingly coy over the last few years, and no longer simply states the fact, but look at how Gender Studies are categorized at the bottom of the page. Other sources are less circumspect: here is a site called critical-theory.com, with articles about gender theory.

Critical Theory is Marxism repackaged as various academic ‘disciplines’:
See here, for example, or here, where the Encyclopedia Britannica describes it as ‘Marxist inspired’. Marxists, starting with Marx and his incessant and largely irrelevant footnotes to Capital, love to drag in other fields to ‘prove’ their ‘science’ – thus, all sorts of deconstructionists, feminists, Nazis (Heidegger, one of Critical Theory’s “3 Hs” was a freakin’ literal member of the National Socialist Workers Party under Hitler), obscurantists (Husserl makes Withers sound like Frost) and philosophers (Hegel is the first H) get drafted or recruited to the cause, and used to misdirect away from Critical Theory’s obvious Marxism. See? It’s not just Marxism! Hey, it works on the historically and philosophically clueless – 99% of all recent college grads, for pertinent example.

Since reality contradicts Marxist theory at every turn, reality must be denied: Everything is a social construct. From within the epistemic closure, this sounds profound – at least, you can count on everybody in your classroom or faculty lounge nodding seriously whenever anything is declared a social construct. From outside the closure, it’s moon-barking mad and moronically stupid. It’s a classic example of a self-refuting position: hey man, the concept of social construction is, like, a social construct. Deep.

The Individual is nothing; the Collective is everything. Marxists don’t care about you. Individuals are of value only if they further the Revolution. Since morality is also a social construct, and Marxists are pragmatic after their fashion, they believe they are completely justified in lying, manipulating and using you to further the glorious ends. No Marxist sheds a tear thinking about the 100+ million people murdered in the name of Marxism, nor the hundreds of millions more who lived lives of terror and poverty under it. They are making an omelette. Eggs will be broken.

Marxism denies science, unless it can be framed in such a way as to support Marxism. Lysenko. Biology, evolutionary biology and human genetics all say people come in two sexes. All gender study ‘science’ starts with the premises that the problem is oppression and the solution is revolution; therefore, there is no gender theory science: no fair, and no science, assuming your conclusions.

Gender Theory should be rejected because it is simply a flavor of Marxism; Marxism should be rejected because it is evil, anti-science, and denies any morality whatsoever, and because of the 100 million+ defenseless, innocent women, children and men murdered by Marxists. If Naziism is to be condemned because Nazis killed about 12 million innocent people, Marxisms must be condemned even more strongly for the 100+ million they sacrificed to their idiotic ideology.

The critical (ha ha) point: the epistemic closure is 100% Marxist. Marxist dogma demands that the only, as in THE ONLY, source of suffering and pain in this world is oppression. (1) Therefore, the only allowable course of inquiry is: how is this X here explained by oppression? Who is oppressing whom? Next, the only allowable solution under Marxism is revolution: oppression will never cease as long as the Hegemony continues. As one American Politburo member put it: we’re not here to fix the system, we’re here to overthrow it. Finally, Marxism demands that reality be denied in order to save the theory.

Over the last 6-8 years I’ve been looking at this, I’ve noticed a trend on common on-line sources away from owning up to Gender Theory’s status as simply a sub-discipline of Critical Theory. As the Beatles so succinctly put it: If you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao you ain’t gonna make it with anyone anyhow.

People who accept Gender Theory while denying or ignoring its Marxist roots are – according to the Marxists – useful idiots.

3 Forgive me, I’m now about to extensively quote myself:

Freud, the rest of the story:

When Ziggy first started analyzing people, his customers were, naturally, people who could pay for it. Thus, the parade of identified patients were largely the children of wealth and status.

In this parade, Freud found a number of patients who claimed they were being or had been sexually molested. Thus, he came to one of the great turning points in modern psychology. He could believe the patients (his records show that he initially did!) and go to bat for them – and find himself accusing the people who were paying his bills, the people to whose parties and teas he was being invited, of being monsters or, at least, of having monstrous things happening under their noses. It would have most likely ended his career, or at least put it on a less immediately gratifying trajectory.

Or he could ‘discover’ in a flash of Hegelian enlightenment that these patients were merely fantasizing or hallucinating because they were sexually repressed or suffering under an Oedipus complex or just in general obsessed with sex in the deepest darkest corners of their minds. That way, he could refocus what would be really uncomfortable attention from the family and friends of the patient back onto the patient’s own problems. He could still get invited to all the cool parties, build his practice with their help, and get paid.

So, for decades afterward, any number of abused children, when sent to Freudian analysts, were systematically convinced that they were deluding themselves, that their memories were mere fantasy, and that they needed to focus on their own twisted minds. Mom and dad were largely off the hook – the patient may have issues with them, but, alas! we’re all slaves to sexual repression, so what else could one expect?

When this gaslighting was finally exposed, largely in the 60s and 70s, Freudian teachings and theory were of course excoriated from all the pulpits of academia, and his name became an insult and cautionary tale. Just kidding! Nope, his theories had proven far too useful for deflecting and misdirection, so we continue to use his language and understanding to this day.

Similarly, up until that fateful day in 2013, when ‘gender dysphoria’ was slipped into the DSM in the dark of night, responsible therapists, when presented with a child who claimed to be of the opposite sex, would gently poke around a little, to see what else was going on it the kids life. Were they being bullied? Were the boys pestering them for sex? Were daddy and mommy getting along and being kind to them? Did they understand that puberty was hard and confusing, but that people do get through it OK? Those therapists, had they received their training prior to the complete convergence of their field in academia, were aware that 1) the vast majority of kids presenting as dysphoric resolve their issues in favor of their actual sex if given time and support, and 2) that cases where that doesn’t happen tend to very miserable – all the usual problem: addiction, depression, suicide, etc. occur with much higher frequency and severity.

In other words, specifically, the post 2013 words, such careful and compassionate therapists were the hatiest haters and bigots imaginable! They dared to ask questions that might just point back to the ruined lives of these kids, ruined by divorce, abuse, and rootlessness. Under the new theory, even asking questions was hate and bigotry. Just like the victims of Freud, the new heroes of gender theory get to bear their pain alone, while having everyone around them explain everything away – and, desperately seeking relief and reinforced by the adults around them, the kids will embrace it!


‘Gender Affirmation’ transfers all responsibility for the raising and happiness of our children away from the parents and onto ‘society’, which, as a reified abstraction, has no agency: Society doesn’t do things, people do. Instead of asking the hard questions of ourselves and the other people in the child’s life, we can simply affirm the child’s suffering, give it a societal diagnosis, and get on with our wretched lives. The child is thus instructed to blame largely nameless other people for his unhappiness and let moms and dads (in whatever configuration exists this week) skate free. Moms and dads are eager to embrace an ideology that absolves them, that hands them a stick with which to beat down to incessant call of what’s left of their consciences. Sacrificing their kids is nothing new: they’ve been doing it for years through divorce, casual relationships, and the constant betrayal of their own children that such lives entail.

We are all weak human beings, but this is pure evil

  1. In typical Marxist When Prophecy Fails fashion, Marx ‘s original version was that Capital, the reification of Bad Men Making Money, oppressed Workers, little saints all; when that failed to actuate, Lenin broadened oppressors to include all sorts of reactionaries and counterrevolutionaries, which under Stalin ended up including the little children of Ukrainian farmers, who therefore needed to be murdered. But the real breakthrough in providing proper boogiemen to revolt against was made by Gramsci, who imagined a hegemony, whereby all that is wholesome and happy is nothing more than a tool of oppression, we happy, wholesome people are just too stupid to see it. Marxists need never lack for oppressors again!

Refusing to Burn the Incense

Well, it finally happened: at a special meeting of our little private school, we – my wife and I – were made to listen to various testimonials – by people we like and respect for the most part, I hasten to add – on the beauty and wonderfulness of gender affirmation, and how hurt and disappointed they were to hear that some people at the school were not on board. My beloved wife promptly stood up and said: cut the crap, you’re talking about me. You are trying to force me to lie, and say that boy can be a girl or visa versa. While I respect everyone, gender theory is harmful and dishonest.

Just a pinch is required. Pay no attention to the ruins of a civilization…

This went over as one might expect. The image that came to mind was of the children of alcoholics (I got a load of my own problems, but not that one) for whom the story is sacred: as long as everyone agrees that daddy didn’t mean it, or mommy just forgot, or whatever tale allows the kids to ignore the horrible reality of their lives and keep it together one more day, the relationship of that story to the truth is less than irrelevant. I’ve seen this in real life; I also read I forget where an account of a situation where the youngest child, not yet aware of how this works, doesn’t want to get with the story the older children are telling each other: but that’s not what mommy said! and has the full weight of the siblings authority brought to bear on him until he complies.

Thus, the story – gender dysphoria is something to be honored and respected and never, ever contradicted – would get sincerely repeated, after my wife and I had our say, as if nothing had happened. Surreal.

I – very stupidly, in retrospect – appealed to science. In a culture where the likes of former stand-up comedian and electrical engineer Bill Nye are considered scientists, such efforts were obviously wasted. I burned my chance.

Another stupid thing for me: I was actually unprepared for the universal reliance on communist propaganda: everything is a social construct, man. Can’t even hear anyone say that without recalling the pot-addled hippies I knew as kid saying ‘it’s the system, man.’ I should have known better. The state of education is such that this marketing slogan, the sophisticated-sounding version of ‘the individual is nothing, the collective everything’ is the go-to position for faux intellectuals and wannabes of all ages. It’s also the password to the Kool Kids Klub. As Z says in Men in Black: Congratulations! You’re everything we’ve come to expect from years of government training.

The funny thing: I actually care about these people, some of whom I’ve known for years. They, of course, at this point will never believe it, for I am clearly a hater and a bigot. I’ve hardly been able to sleep for the last three days, running what I should have said through my brain over and over, hoping to get through or plant some seeds, at which I utterly failed. Just tonight I think I’ve finally gotten the mental auto-loop function under control, thank God.

In a crowd of maybe 25-30 people, two (2) of us were not buying the propaganda. Well, three, since our 15 year old son showed up for this but wisely kept his mouth shut. Poor kid.

Welcome to California. I’m hoping – crazy optimistic, I know – that this is the final shoe to drop: the last 6+ years, our eldest son was hit by a car and died, two of my older sisters died of cancer, I lost my job after 22 years, and now the people in the school we help found and spent untold sweat, worry and money on over 23 years, have decided we’re hateful bigots. I don’t even want to know what else could go wrong.

On the plus side: after several years of feeling ill and exhausted (stress, maybe? Depression? Gee, ya think?) I now, for the last couple of months, feel like my old high-energy self. You also may have noticed that the fiction writer’s block that has afflicted me for the past 9 months has passed with a flurry of flash fiction. The Novel That Shall Not Be Named and a pile of short stories beckon…

The State of Education

Yea, yea, beating a dead horse. Here I collect, organize and expand upon a number of themes that converge to get us to the sorry state we now find ourselves in. Expanding on a Twitter thread I wrote this morning:

When William Torrey Harris said “substantial education” (greatly facilitated by the graded classroom model being imposed everywhere back in the 1890s, and universal now) turned people into “automata, careful to follow prescribed paths” he meant that as a GOOD thing. He wanted everyone to absorb a culture, in his case, an Hegelian culture, whatever that might mean.

But there is a next step: after you’ve trained people to just follow orders, get in line, regurgitate on command & collect the participation trophy, THEN – (translating from Hegelian jargon to Modern English) – you need to get them Woke. For Harris, this meant a culture where everyone is open to being enlightened, allowing Progress to happen by approaching all problems via Hegelian dialectic. This the substantially educated would just do, no questions asked. There is no option, as Harris sees the the world, to working for Progress through the unfolding of the Spirit through History, etc. All is Becoming, nothing really IS. The usual Hegelian bullsh*t.

Reminder: Harris was not just some loopy poser (although he was that) – he was the US Commissioner of Education from 1889 to 1906.

By the 1890s. Hegel had been set upright by Marx. I am oddly sympathetic to this traditional claim, as the God of Hegel is no god at all, but rather a mutable force finding its ultimate expression in History. Seems more tidy, even if equally dazzlingly incoherent, to just assign to History whatever god-like traits Hegel had hung on Spirit. Cut out the middleman, as it were, and lose whatever tenuous relationship Hegel’s Spirit had to any traditional understanding of the Supreme Being.

Marxists have no use for God, but the schooling Harris helped establish suited them just fine. School of Darkness describes, peripherally, how this change from the barmy and superficially benevolent totalitarianism of Harris to the much more bloodthirsty totalitarianism of Marx came about.

Jump ahead 50 years. Ambitious people had long recognized college as a meal ticket. (They failed to see that it’s only a meal ticket when it’s selective and hard – it doesn’t create jobs, just filters out the riff-raff, so to speak). So college became a universal goal, an unmitigated good. As such, the government got heavily into subsidizing it. For totally benevolent reasons, I’m sure.

Remember: follow the money. We pretend we’re subsidizing students but we’re not – students get debt, colleges get the real money. More and more flush with cash as the 60s rolled into the 70s and 80s, with more on the table for the taking from students loans, our fine colleges and universities practically wet themselves in the search for more students, any students! But faced with the dumbed-down products of Harris’s schooling, colleges were and are highly motivated to create classes & degrees for the unprepared and stupid. Today, even freshmen at elite colleges need to take remedial classes to attempt even the radically dumbed down curricula, so that, for example, 50% of incoming freshmen at Cal must take remedial math & English. These are kids who got into Cal based on all those AP credits and high SAT scores.

Today, anyone drawing breath can get into college and get ridiculous loans to pay highly inflated tuition prices so that they can get a college degree on the patently false theory that a better job will magically come with it.

The colleges get the money.

Luckily for the colleges, they already had a field-tested model of content-free education that could be passed by relative morons: Education schools, which have handed out degrees to the bottom 10% of students for over a century now. All they had to do was apply the rigor-free regurgitation approach perfected in education, where Harris’s philosophy, as modified and refined by such luminaries as the Communist apologist Dewey, is taught to the idealistic, if less intelligent and more gullible, fraction of students.

RAD(1) (Right Answers Disciplines) classes, like math, or even accounting, are deemphasized and removed from requirements while those demanding simple regurgitation of the prof’s pet theories multiply like rabbits. Old subjects that used to at least pretend toward some rigor, such as history and philosophy, are castrated to become as manageable as education.

Colleges became participation trophy diploma mills. Businesses can no longer use a degree as an indicator of minimal intellectual competence. Employers want to know you studied something, you know, hard-ish, before they give you that coveted slot in the cube farm. (2) Grads who never should have attended college in the first place weep that they have a lovely Studies degree but no one will hire them!

EXCEPT for the lucky few who get hired BY THE COLLEGES to teach yet more Studies classes to yet more heavily-indebted, unprepared students. Even the remaining RAD classes are under intense pressure to be made easier.

At some point, I’m guessing around 15 or 20 years ago, the Studies faculty began to outnumber the RAD faculty. This means that the hiring & tenure committees as well as internal governance and discipline boards came to be dominated by Studies professors.

This has had negative consequences.

Go back to Harris & being Woke. The Studies people have one thing in common: Critical Theory. Critical Theory has one answer to all questions: oppression. The only acceptable exercise is exposing the oppressor/oppressed dynamic that explains all misery everywhere.

Critical Theory which is merely Marxism configured for academic consumption, is, like Marxism in general, fundamentally an adolescent idea. It’s stupid, and contradicted by all experience. Any adult-level interaction with reality would disabuse one from it – but the products of our schools are inoculated as far as possible from any such interactions. Get ’em while they’re young! Because once it’s set in, it often takes a nuclear-level red pill to break the spell.

Back to colleges. We’ve reached the point where now, if any RAD professor were so crazy as to suggest that biology, history, (non-Marxist, i.e., real) economics, etc. contradict the crazies, the Studies people can deny him tenure or get him fired – if he somehow made it past the hiring committee in the first place. Then the loving, enlightened students will harrass him, dox him, threaten his children, threaten any venue that publishes his work and slander anyone who interacts with him.

Good times. Just imagine how bad it would be if our Woke children weren’t so loving and kind.

Thus, when the serious-looking talking head says idiotic things like Science supports Gender Theory, the biologists, physiologists, evolutionary biologists etc., who know this is idiotic nonsense stay silent – if they want to keep their grants and jobs.

The well-educated, who spent 12+ years ‘succeeding’ by sitting in their desks, standing in their lines, regurgitating the acceptable answers, and in general doing exactly as they were told feel a thrill of victory when the bad man who said mean things is punished. This is called being enlightened.

Even more convenient, being Woke means you already know the answer. Being Woke is inoculation against ever having to think. You know you are just the best, finest, most moral people EVER, in a way that simply cannot be explained to the unwoke. To even attempt such an explanation would be ridiculous. You either get it or you don’t.

The schooling we have today, promoted by Harris (and many others), taken over by Critical Theorists, is the chief tool of today’s totalitarian, anti-science nihilism. Comply or Die!

Conclusion: we are so screwed. The schools must be burned to the ground. True, the useful idiots will be the first to go if the revolution they are enabling ever comes to pass. A successful backlash would save their lives. Amusing if you like bitter irony, but small comfort.

Probably going to move out of my home state of California, always the leader in social trends. I’m taking suggestions for states that are accepting political refugees like me and mine, preferably ones where a finance/business guy can find a job. Any ideas?

  1. Heard RAD from Severian, not sure if it’s original with him, it was too cool not to use.
  2. The bottom rung in business, smarts-wise, is Human Resources. If a Woman’s Studies grad were ever to get hired, that’s where she’d end up – where they can act as gatekeepers to future job applicants. What could go wrong?