July 24, 2006
U.S.A. Schooling the Communist Way
By Brannon S. Howse
After Part 1 of this series appeared, I received several e-mails that confirmed my fears: Far too many of my fellow citizens actually think school-to-work is a good idea.
“Why,” I wondered, “would any American think the merging of education with industrial production as found in the Communist Manifesto benefits our children?” It must be because they are educated beyond their intelligence, they love socialism and communism, or they don’t recognize Marxism even when it stares them in the face.
Let me be very clear on a few things. First, I do think vocational education is a good idea. I also think apprenticeship programs are an outstanding approach to career preparation for some people. Too many students are pressured to go to college just because “that’s the way to get ahead.” And I certainly do not believe state and federal governments should be the ones pressuring students to go to college or not or pressuring students to pick certain career majors. All students from first grade through the twelfth should receive a strongly academic education that will well prepare them to be thinking, creative persons in life and in whatever career they choose.
If you think school-to-work style education reform is not occurring where you live, then you need to ask whether or not your state receives any federal education funds. If your state is not receiving federal dollars, this communist brand of education reform may not be taking place. But lest you be even slightly optimistic, I’ll tell you plainly that I don’t know of a single state that has rejected federal education funds and the accompanying mandates. That means, it’s happening right where you live. Whether it is private grants, No Child Left Behind, or some other U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Labor program, states are rushing to comply with federal requirements so they can gorge themselves at Uncle Sam’s money trough.
Florida, Minnesota, Illinois, Oregon, and Washington are further along in their implantation of school-to-work/ready-to-work/Small Learning Communities, but make no mistake: Every state in the union has school districts that are in some way weaving this reform package into their systems, thereby moving America down the road toward a centrally planned economy.
Lynn Cheney, wife of Vice-President Dick Cheney, is the former chair-woman of the National Endowment for the Humanities. While serving with NEH, Mrs. Cheney wrote about the dangers of school-to-work:
A central thesis of school-to-work plans, for example, is that eighth-graders should choose careers. To help them along, schools administer interest and personality assessments that direct students toward specific occupations, often ones that have little to do with their ambitions. Kristine Jensen, a Nevada mother, told me that her daughter, an honor student who wants to work for NASA, had been advised to consider a career in sanitation or interior design. Eunice Evans, a parental-rights advocate in Pennsylvania, described a boy in her neighborhood that wanted to be a doctor but was told it would be more appropriate for him to be a gas station attendant or a truck-driver.
Mrs. Cheney also pointed out the goal of workforce development boards—backed profusely by federal funds—that now exist in almost every state:
To consider future market needs and decide which career choices schools should encourage. But predicting work-force needs is an iffy business. In 1989, for example, a prestigious study declared that by 1997, there would be a substantial shortage of humanities Ph.D’s, when, in fact, there is now a glut.
We need more public servants like Craig Hagen who will take a stand for what is right. In her congressional testimony, Lynn Cheney told Mr. Hagen’s story:
Concerned that schools in his state would get in the business of enforcing politically correct thinking led Craig Hagen, North Dakota’s Commissioner of Labor, to resign from his state’s school-to-work management team earlier this year. “I couldn’t remain in that position with my principles,” he said.
But abuses abound. In Las Vegas, for example, Rene Tucker’s daughter, Darcy, was pulled out of a geography class without her parents’ consent in order to be given a computerized career assessment. Although Darcy wants to become a veterinarian, the computer held that she should be a bartender or waitress, and it spat out a list of courses she ought to take toward that end. Mrs. Tucker said, “We’re Christians, and the school stepped on my toes as a parent. It is my job to direct my child’s career path, and it would not be in her best interest to be a bartender.” Given the gargantuan hospitality needs of the state, it might be in Nevada’s best interest to turn Darcy into one of the minions of the gambling and entertainment industry, but that approach to career path development sounds more like it belongs in the 1960s Soviet Union than in 21st century America.
A few years ago I testified before the Kansas state senate along with Rene Tucker. We were joined by an economist from Hillsdale College to urge Kansas not to implement school-to-work in that state. The anticipated tidal wave of federal funds was too much for the mere state of Kansas to resist, though, and on behalf of its people, the state legislature instead rejected common sense and freedom to imbibe the failed economic polices of communism.
In his now classic book, Brave New World, Aldous Huxley wrote,
To bring about the revolution we require…Enabling government managers to assign any given individual to his or her proper place in the social and economic hierarchy. Round pegs in square holes tend to have dangerous thoughts about the social system and to infect others with their discontents.
In other words, those who do not agree with the State’s worldview or “standards” will not be encouraged to pursue positions of power or influence either socially or economically.
A career exploration test already used in six states features 100 true or false questions, including these:
• I have taught a Sunday school class or otherwise take an active part in my church;
• I believe in a God who answers prayers;
• I believe that tithing is one’s duty to God;
• I pray to God about my problems;
• It is important that grace be said before meals;
• I read the Bible or other religious writings regularly;
• I believe in life after death;
• I believe that God created man in his own image;
• If I ask God for forgiveness, my sins are forgiven.
Now let that sink in for a moment, and then ask yourself this question: Why are such questions included on a career exploration test if not to determine the “proper place” to assign each student? The benign answer, of course, is to find out whether or not someone is suited to a job as a church pastor. But there is also a frighteningly non-benign possibility as Christian thought becomes increasingly marginalized in our culture. It could all too easily become the new frontier for “black balling” undesirables such as people who actually think God matters.
The goals of the Communist Manifesto and those who signed the Humanist Manifesto are being accomplished even now as we see the merging of education with labor policy—or what many are referring to as corporate fascism. The American Heritage Dictionary defines corporate fascism as “a philosophy or system of government that advocates or exercises dictatorship through the merging of state and business leadership.”
The fact that so many Americans don’t even know this communistic education reform is sweeping our nation is perilous. What is even more alarming are the ones who know it yet believe it is a good thing. Liberal Republicans and Democrats alike have succeeded in achieving the goals that Secular Humanists and Communists have long sought for America’s children. And there, as they say, goes the future.
U.S.A. Schooling the Communist Way
By Brannon S. Howse
Several weeks ago, I was sitting in a hotel lobby sipping a Coke and visiting with my friend Michael Reagan who had just given a speech before several hundred people. Mike, as you may know, is a best-selling author, radio talk-show host, Fox News contributor, and eldest son of President Ronald Reagan.
A few minutes into our conversation, Mike remembered something he wanted to tell me. “Brannon,” he said, cocking his head in my direction, “I thought of you this morning when I read the newspaper.”
I wondered if he were about to crack a joke at my expense but noted that there was no trace of a smirk on Mike’s face. “Really?” I wondered, “What made you think of me?”
“Well,” Mike said before pausing for an instant (I wonder where he picked up that mannerism) “I was thinking of you because I read in the paper that Jeb Bush has become the first governor in America to sign into law a state-wide requirement that ninth-grade high school students pick a career major and focus on that major from ninth through twelfth grade. You’ve predicted something like that on my radio show more than once since 1993—also in your book for which I wrote the foreword.”
Mike was correct. It’s a prediction I hoped Americans would be wise enough to stop before it came to pass. As the education reporter and often the guest host of Michael Reagan’s program I had spend countless hours warning Mike’s listeners about Goals 2000, School-to-Work, Outcome-Based Education, HR6, No Child Left Behind, and other federal plans that have the goal of merging education with industrial production, thus turning our schools into vocational centers where students are “trained” rather than educated.
Republicans and Democrats alike are to blame for nailing this tenth plank of the Communist Manifesto into the educational foundation of schools right here in the good old U.S. of A. Lest you think I exaggerate, the tenth principle of the Communist Manifesto states that the goal of schooling for society’s children should be the “combination of education with industrial production.”
Starting in 1992, the transformation of America’s schools into vocational centers greatly accelerated. T.G. Stict, who served under Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, has observed, “Many companies have moved operations to places with cheap, relatively poorly educated labor. What may be crucial, they say, is the dependability of a labor force and how well it can be managed and trained, not its general education level.” In other words, as long as we can control people, who cares what they know?
Through programs like School-to-Work the “State” decides which children will go on to college and which go straight into the workforce following their “training certification.” State education authorities review a student’s educational history and determine the career track the individual will follow. The desires of Big Brother, I mean, the State take precedent over the wishes of the individual and his or her parents. Those who conform to governmental standards are rewarded with further education and a good job. Those who do not reflect the liberal, Secular Humanist worldview will likely be pushed to vocational jobs where their Christian worldview is less likely to have an impact on the culture.
The California PTA has noted that “School-to-Work is based on the premise that government control can do a better job of training individuals, satisfying occupational demands and managing the development of economic activities than can the effort and initiative of millions of individuals.”
The draconian educational measures of the past fifteen years have made strange bedfellows. President George H. W. Bush gave us America 2000. Although President Clinton later changed the name to Goals 2000, he supported the program and pushed through several federal bills that further meshed education with industrial production. President George W. Bush expanded what his father and President Clinton had begun when he cozied up with Ted Kennedy to give us a massive federal program with the irresistible sound-bite name, No Child Left Behind. Florida Governor Jeb Bush then took advantage of federal funds available from his older brother’s program and on June 5, 2006 signed into law the ninth grade career major requirement. Florida is the first state in the nation to require this state-wide. Under Florida’s new law, career exploration will begin as early as sixth grade. By ninth grade, students will need to declare their career major. Several other states are not far behind and will soon join Florida in this radical American implementation of the Communist Manifesto.
Did you know what you wanted to do when you were in ninth grade? Do you wish the government had decided for you then what you would be doing for the rest of your life to earn a living? Would that seem like a heavy-handed restriction on your freedom to be self-determining? (In case you need help on this test, the right answers are No-No-Yes.)
Students will be encouraged to select a career that will direct them either along a vocational track or a college-bound track. With the assistance (or coercion, perhaps?) of school career counselors, students will be channeled into the path that is “right” for them. But here’s one of the big problems that is guaranteed to arise: If a ninth grade student who decides on the auto mechanic track, for example, changes his mind in the eleventh or twelfth grade, he’s stuck without the schooling needed to go to college upon graduation. At that point, a vocational track student will not have taken courses needed for acceptance into college.
Some of you may consider this a good idea since not everyone should be college bound. And I agree that in many regards, college is a waste of time and money unless a person aspires to be a doctor, lawyer, nurse, engineer, or other such professional. Several studies reveal that many, if not most, of America’s millionaires do not have college degrees. Such notables as Rush Limbaugh, Bill Gates, President Harry Truman, and the late Peter Jennings never graduated from college. Yet while a college degree is not needed for success, an academically sound education from kindergarten through twelfth grade is essential for every student regardless of their post-high school plans. It is the only way to have an informed citizenry.
Perhaps even more critical, the federal government is not qualified to project the supply and demand of the workforce two years—much less ten—from now. Trying to do so is one of the stultifying aspects of centrally planned economies (remember the Soviet Union?). Whether the plan is called ready-to-work, school-to-work, school-to-career, small learning communities, or any other soundbite-crafted moniker, it is still a fulfillment of the Communist Manifesto, not the Declaration of Independence or any other foundational American document.
The frightening reality is that codifying these programs will only make an already dangerous situation worse. Even without Florida-style programs solidly in place yet, many students are already finding themselves channeled where they don’t want to go. In part 2 of this series, we will examine several examples of how honor students that are also conservative Christians have been funneled into jobs as bartenders and waitresses. And bear in mind as elections approach that you can’t simply assume a given Republican or Democrat is for or against such programs just because of party affiliation. You’ll have to find out where each individual candidate stands. Educational communism is not a party-specific issue. So be careful not to vote for someone who will add a communist plank to an election platform.
February 6, 2006
Social Justice: Code for Communism
By Barry Loberfeld
FrontPageMagazine.com | February 27, 2004
The signature of modern leftist rhetoric is the deployment of terminology that simply cannot fail to command assent. As Orwell himself recognized, even slavery could be sold if labeled “freedom.” In this vein, who could ever conscientiously oppose the pursuit of “social justice,” — i.e., a just society?
To understand “social justice,” we must contrast it with the earlier view of justice against which it was conceived — one that arose as a revolt against political absolutism. With a government (e.g., a monarchy) that is granted absolute power, it is impossible to speak of any injustice on its part. If it can do anything, it can’t do anything “wrong.” Justice as a political/legal term can begin only when limitations are placed upon the sovereign, i.e., when men define what is unjust for government to do. The historical realization traces from the Roman senate to Magna Carta to the U.S. Constitution to the 19th century. It was now a matter of “justice” that government not arrest citizens arbitrarily, sanction their bondage by others, persecute them for their religion or speech, seize their property, or prevent their travel.
This culmination of centuries of ideas and struggles became known as liberalism. And it was precisely in opposition to this liberalism — not feudalism or theocracy or the ancien régime, much less 20th century fascism — that Karl Marx formed and detailed the popular concept of “social justice,” (which has become a kind of “new and improved” substitute for a storeful of other terms — Marxism, socialism, collectivism — that, in the wake of Communism’s history and collapse, are now unsellable).
“The history of all existing society,” he and Engels declared, “is the history of class struggles. Freeman and slave, patrician and plebian, lord and serf … oppressor and oppressed, stood in sharp opposition to each other.” They were quite right to note the political castes and resulting clashes of the pre-liberal era. The expositors of liberalism (Spencer, Maine) saw their ethic, by establishing the political equality of all (e.g., the abolition of slavery, serfdom, and inequality of rights), as moving mankind from a “society of status” to a “society of contract.” Alas, Marx the Prophet could not accept that the classless millenium had arrived before he did. Thus, he revealed to a benighted humanity that liberalism was in fact merely another stage of History’s class struggle — “capitalism” — with its own combatants: the “proletariat” and the “bourgeoisie.” The former were manual laborers, the latter professionals and business owners. Marx’s “classes” were not political castes but occupations.
Today the terms have broadened to mean essentially income brackets. If Smith can make a nice living from his writing, he’s a bourgeois; if Jones is reciting poetry for coins in a subway terminal, he’s a proletarian. But the freedoms of speech and enterprise that they share equally are “nothing but lies and falsehoods so long as” their differences in affluence and influence persist (Luxemburg). The unbroken line from The Communist Manifesto to its contemporary adherents is that economic inequality is the monstrous injustice of the capitalist system, which must be replaced by an ideal of “social justice” — a “classless” society created by the elimination of all differences in wealth and “power.”
Give Marx his due: He was absolutely correct in identifying the political freedom of liberalism — the right of each man to do as he wishes with his own resources — as the origin of income disparity under capitalism. If Smith is now earning a fortune while Jones is still stuck in that subway, it’s not because of the “class” into which each was born, to say nothing of royal patronage. They are where they are because of how the common man spends his money. That’s why some writers sell books in the millions, some sell them in the thousands, and still others can’t even get published. It is the choices of the masses (“the market”) that create the inequalities of fortune and fame — and the only way to correct those “injustices” is to control those choices.
Every policy item on the leftist agenda is merely a deduction from this fundamental premise. Private property and the free market of exchange are the most obvious hindrances to the implementation of that agenda, but hardly the only. Also verboten is the choice to emigrate, which removes one and one’s wealth from the pool of resources to be redirected by the demands of “social justice” and its enforcers. And crucial to the justification of a “classless” society is the undermining of any notion that individuals are responsible for their behavior and its consequences. To maintain the illusion that classes still exist under capitalism, it cannot be conceded that the “haves” are responsible for what they have or that the “have nots” are responsible for what they have not. Therefore, people are what they are because of where they were born into the social order — as if this were early 17th century France.
Men of achievement are pointedly referred to as “the priviliged” — as if they were given everything and earned nothing. Their seemimg accomplishments are, at best, really nothing more than the results of the sheer luck of a beneficial social environment (or even — in the allowance of one egalitarian, John Rawls — “natural endowment”). Consequently, the “haves” do not deserve what they have. The flip side of this is the insistence that the “have nots” are, in fact, “the underpriviliged,” who have been denied their due by an unjust society. If some men wind up behind bars, they are (to borrow from Broadway) depraved only because they are “deprived.” Environmental determinism, once an almost sacred doctrine of official Soviet academe, thrives as the “social constructionist” orthodoxy of today’s anti-capitalist left. The theory of “behavioral scientists” and their boxed rats serviceably parallels the practice of a Central Planning Board and its closed society.
The imperative of economic equality also generates a striking opposition between “social justice” and its liberal rival. The equality of the latter, we’ve noted, is the equality of all individuals in the eyes of the law — the protection of the political rights of each man, irrespective of “class” (or any assigned collective identity, hence the blindfold of Justice personified). However, this political equality, also noted, spawns the difference in “class” between Smith and Jones. All this echoes Nobel laureate F.A. Hayek’s observation that if “we treat them equally [politically], the result must be inequality in their actual [i.e., economic] position.” The irresistable conclusion is that “the only way to place them in an equal [economic] position would be to treat them differently [politically]” — precisely the conclusion that the advocates of “social justice” themselves have always reached.
In the nations that had instituted this resolution throughout their legal systems, “different” political treatment came to subsume the extermination or imprisonment of millions because of their “class” origins. In our own American “mixed economy,” which mixes differing systems of justice as much as economics, “social justice” finds expression in such policies and propositions as progressive taxation and income redistribution; affirmative action and even “reparations,” its logical implication; and selective censorship in the name of “substantive equality,” i.e., economic equality disingenuously reconfigured as a Fourteenth Amendment right and touted as the moral superior to “formal equality,” the equality of political freedom actually guaranteed by the amendment. This last is the project of a growing number of leftist legal theorists that includes Cass Sunstein and Catherine MacKinnon, the latter opining that the “law of [substantive] equality and the law of freedom of expression [for all] are on a collision course in this country.” Interestingly, Hayek had continued, “Equality before the law and material equality are, therefore, not only different, but in conflict with each other” — a pronouncement that evidently draws no dissent.
Hayek emphasized another conflict between the two conceptions of justice, one we can begin examining simply by asking who the subject of liberal justice is. The answer: a person — a flesh-and-blood person, who is held accountable for only those actions that constitute specifically defined crimes of violence (robbery, rape, murder) against other citizens. Conversely, who is the subject of “social justice” — society? Indeed yes, but is society really a “who”? When we speak of “social psychology” (the standard example), no one believes that there is a “social psyche” whose thoughts can be analyzed. And yet the very notion of “social justice” presupposes a volitional Society whose actions can (and must) be held accountable. This jarring bit of Platonism traces all the way back to Marx himself, who, “despite all his anti-Idealistic and anti-Hegelian rhetoric, is really an Idealist and Hegelian … asserting, at root, that [Society] precedes and determines the characteristics of those who are [its] members” (R.A. Childs, Jr.). Behold leftism’s alternative to liberalism’s “atomistic individualism”: reifying collectivism, what Hayek called “anthropomorphism or personification.”
Too obviously, it is not liberalism that atomizes an entity (a concrete), but “social justice” that reifies an aggregate (an abstraction). And exactly what injustice is Society responsible for? Of course: the economic inequality between Smith and Jones — and Johnson and Brown and all others. But there is no personified Society who planned and perpetrated this alleged inequity, only a society of persons acting upon the many choices made by their individual minds. Eventually, though, everyone recognizes that this Ideal of Society doesn’t exist in the real world — leaving two options. One is to cease holding society accountable as a legal entity, a moral agent. The other is to conclude that the only practicable way to hold society accountable for “its” actions is to police the every action of every individual.
The apologists for applied “social justice” have always explained away its relationship to totalitarianism as nothing more than what we may call (after Orwell’s Animal Farm) the “Napoleon scenario”: the subversion of earnest revolutions by demented individuals (e.g., Stalin, Mao — to name just two among too many). What can never be admitted is that authoritarian brutality is the not-merely-possible-but-inevitable realization of the nature of “social justice” itself.
What is “social justice”? The theory that implies and justifies the practice of socialism. And what is “socialism”? Domination by the State. What is “socialized” is state-controlled. So what is “totalitarian” socialism other than total socialism, i.e., state control of everything? And what is that but the absence of a free market in anything, be it goods or ideas? Those who contend that a socialist government need not be totalitarian, that it can allow a free market — independent choice, the very source of “inequality”! — in some things (ideas) and not in others (goods — as if, say, books were one or the other), are saying only that the socialist ethic shouldn’t be applied consistently.
This is nothing less than a confession of moral cowardice. It is the explanation for why, from Moscow to Managua, all the rivalries within the different socialist revolutions have been won by, not the “democratic” or “libertarian” socialists, but the totalitarians, i.e., those who don’t qualify their socialism with antonyms. “Totalitarian socialism” is not a variation but a redundancy, which is why half-capitalist hypocrites will always lose out to those who have the courage of their socialist convictions. (Likewise, someone whose idea of “social justice” is a moderate welfare state is someone who’s willing to tolerate far more “social injustice” than he’s willing to eliminate.)
What is “social justice”? The abolition of privacy. Its repudiation of property rights, far from being a fundamental, is merely one derivation of this basic principle. Socialism, declared Marx, advocates “the positive abolition of private property [in order to effect] the return of man himself as a social, i.e., really human, being.” It is the private status of property — meaning: the privacy, not the property — that stands in opposition to the social (i.e., “socialized,” and thus “really human”) nature of man. Observe that the premise holds even when we substitute x for property. If private anything denies man’s social nature, then so does private everything. And it is the negation of anything and everything private — from work to worship to even family life — that has been the social affirmation of the socialist state.
What is “social justice”? The opposite of capitalism. And what is “capitalism”? It is Marx’s coinage (minted by his materialist dispensation) for the Western liberalism that diminished state power from absolutism to limited government; that, from John Locke to the American Founders, held that each individual has an inviolable right to his own life, liberty, and property, which government exists solely to secure. Now what would the reverse of this be but a resurrection of Oriental despotism, the reactionary increase of state power from limited government to absolutism, i.e., “totalitarianism,” the absolute control of absolutely everything? And what is the opposite — the violation — of securing the life, liberty, and property of all men other than mass murder, mass tyranny, and mass plunder? And what is that but the point at which theory ends and history begins?
And yet even before that point — before the 20th century, before publication of the Manifesto itself — there were those who did indeed make the connection between what Marxism inherently meant on paper and what it would inevitably mean in practice. In 1844, Arnold Ruge presented the abstract: “a police and slave state.” And in 1872, Michael Bakunin provided the specifics:
[T]he People’s State of Marx … will not content itself with administering and governing the masses politically, as all governments do today. It will also administer the masses economically, concentrating in the hands of the State the production and division of wealth, the cultivation of land, the establishment and development of factories, the organization and direction of commerce, and finally the application of capital to production by the only banker — the State. All that will demand an immense knowledge and many heads “overflowing with brains” in this government. It will be the reign of scientific intelligence, the most aristocratic, despotic, arrogant, and elitist of all regimes. There will be a new class, a new hierarchy of real and counterfeit scientists and scholars, and the world will be divided into a minority ruling in the name of knowledge, and an immense ignorant majority. And then, woe unto the mass of ignorant ones!
It is precisely this “new class” that reflects the defining contradiction of modern leftist reality: The goal of complete economic equality logically enjoins the means of complete state control, yet this means has never practically achieved that end. Yes, Smith and Jones, once “socialized,” are equally poor and equally oppressed, but now above them looms an oligarchy of not-to-be-equalized equalizers. The inescapable rise of this “new class” — privileged economically as well as politically, never quite ready to “wither away” — forever destroys the possibility of a “classless” society. Here the lesson of socialism teaches what should have been learned from the lesson of pre-liberal despotism — that state coercion is a means to no end but its own. Far from expanding equality from the political to the economic realm, the pursuit of “social justice” serves only to contract it within both. There will never be any kind of equality — or real justice — as long as a socialist elite stands behind the trigger while the rest of us kneel before the barrel.
The contemporary left remains possessed by the spirit of Marx, present even where he’s not, and the best overview of his ideology remains Thomas Sowell’s Marxism: Philosophy and Economics, which is complemented perfectly by the most accessible refutation of that ideology, David Conway’s A Farewell to Marx. Hayek’s majestic The Mirage of Social Justice is a challenging yet rewarding effort, while his The Road to Serfdom provides an unparalleled exposition of how freedom falls to tyranny. Moving from theory to practice, Communism: A History, Richard Pipes’ slim survey, ably says all that is needed.