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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

108. America Is Massified: The Underground History of American Education by John Taylor Gatto from archive.org

America Is Massified 

Older American forms of schooling would never have been equal to the responsibility 
coal, steam, steel, and machinery laid upon them. As late as 1890, the duration of the 
average school year was twelve to twenty weeks. Even with that, school attendance 
hovered between 26 and 42 percent nationwide with the higher figure only in a few 
places like Salem, Massachusetts. 

Yet America had to be massified, and quickly. Since the end of the nineteenth century, 
American government and big business had been fully committed, without public fanfare, 
to creating and maintaining a mass society. Mass society demands tight administration, 
close management to an extreme degree. Humanity becomes undependable, dangerous, 
childlike, and suicidal under such discipline. Holding this contradiction stable requires 

managers of systematic schooling to withdraw trust, to regard their clientele as hospital 
managers might think of potentially homicidal patients. Students, men under military 
discipline, and employees in post offices, hospitals, and other large systems are forced 
into a condition of less than complete sanity. They are dangerous, 4 as history has shown 
again and again. 

There are three indisputable triumphs of mass society we need to acknowledge to 
understand its strength: first, mass production offers relative physical comfort to almost 
all — even the poor have food, shelter, television as a story-teller to raise the illusion of 
community; second, as a byproduct of intense personal surveillance in mass society (to 
provide a steady stream of data to the producing and regulating classes) a large measure 
of personal security is available; third, mass society offers a predictable world, one with 
few surprises — anxieties of uncertainty are replaced in mass society with a rise in ennui 
and indifference. 

When I first began to write this section, anotherof the long stream of post office massacres of recent years had just taken place in New Jersey. 
Vengeance by a disgruntled employee. In the same state a hospital attendant has been charged with murdering as many as a hundred of his 
patients by lethal injection, also a more common occurrence than we want to imagine, and two rich boys at Columbine High School in 
Littleton, Colorado, the site of a much-boasted-of scientific management revolution in 1994, had shot and killed thirteen of their classmates 
before taking their own lives. Human variation cannot be pent up for long in enormous synthetic systems without striving to somehow assert 
the "I" of things. Massified populations cannot exercise self-control very well since they depend on constant oversight to behave as required. 
When external controls are removed, anything becomes possible. 

German Mind Science 

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