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AnAmerAffidavit

Monday, March 27, 2017

227 Autonomous Technology: The Underground History of Amercian Education by John Taylor Gatto from archive.org

Autonomous Technology 



The simple truth is there is no way to control this massive corporate/school thing from 
the human end. It has to be broken up. It has become a piece of autonomous technology. 
Its leadership is bankrupt in ideas. Merchants are merchants, not moral leaders or 
political ones. It surely is a sign of retrogression, not advance, that we have forgotten 
what the world's peoples knew forever. A merchant has the same right to offer his 
opinion as I do, but it makes little sense for people who buy and sell soap and cigarettes 
to tell you how to raise your kid or what to believe in. No more sense than it does for a 
pedagogue to do the same. How would a huckster who pushes toothpaste, a joker who 
vends cigarettes, or a video dream peddler know anything about leading nations or raising 
children correctly? Are these to be the Washingtons, Jacksons, and Lincolns of the 
twenty-first century? 

The timeless core of Western tradition, which only the cowardly and corrupt would wish 
to surrender, shows that we can't grow into the truth of our own nature without local 
traditions and values at the center of things. We do not do well as human beings in those 
abstract associations for material advantage favored by merchants called networks, or in 
megalithic systems, whether governmental, institutional, or corporate. In his book An 
Open Life, Joseph Campbell put his finger on the heart of the matter: 

[It is] an Oriental model. One of the typical things of the Orient is that any criticism 
disqualifies you for the guru's instruction. Well in heaven's name, is that appropriate for 
a Western mind? It's simply a transferring of your submission to a childhood father onto 
a father for your adulthood. Which means you're not growing up.... The thing about the 
guru in the West is that he represents an alien principle, namely, that you don't follow 
your own path, you follow a given path. And that's totally contrary to the Western spirit! 
Our spirituality is of the individual quest, individual realization — authenticity in your 
own life out of your own center, (emphasis added) 

Mario Savio, the 1960s campus radical, stood once on the steps of Sproul Hall, Berkeley, 
and screamed: 

There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick 
at heart that you can't take part; you can't even passively take part, and you've got to put 
your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus 
and you've got to make it stop. And you've got to indicate to the people who own it that 
unless you are free the machine will be prevented from working at all. 

Limiting the power of government, in order to liberate the individual, was the great 
American revolutionary insight. Too much cooperation, avoiding conflict from ordinary 
people, these things aren't acceptable in America although they may suit China, 
Indonesia, Britain, or Germany just fine. In America the absence of conflict is a sign of 
regression toward a global mean, hardly progress by our lights if you've seen much of the 
governance of the rest of the world where common people are crushed like annoying 
insects if they argue. 



Carl Schurz, the German immigrant, said upon seeing America for the first time in 1848, 
"Here you can see how slightly a people needs to be governed." What it will take to break 
collectively out of this trap is a change in the nature of forced schooling, one which alters 
the balance of power between societies and systems in favor of societies again. We need 
once more to debate angrily the purpose of public education. The power of elites to set 
the agenda for public schooling has to be challenged, an agenda which includes 
totalitarian labeling of the ordinary population, unwarranted official prerogatives, and 
near total control of work. Until such a change happens, we need to individually withhold 
excessive allegiance from any and all forms of abstract, remotely displaced, political and 
economic leadership; we need to trust ourselves and our children to remake the future 
locally, demand that intellectual and character development once again be the mission of 
schools; we need to smash the government monopoly over the upbringing of our young 
by forcing it to compete for funds whose commitments should rest largely on the 
judgment of parents and local associations. Where argument, court action, foot-dragging, 
and polite subversion can't derail this judgment, then we must find the courage to be 
saboteurs, as the maquis did in occupied France during WWII. 

It isn't difficult, someone once said, to imagine young Bill Clinton sitting at the feet of 
his favorite old professor, Dr. Carroll Quigley of Georgetown. As Quigley approached 
death, he came back to Georgetown one last time in 1976 to deliver the Oscar Iden 
Lecture Series. The Quigley of the Iden lectures said many things which anticipate the 
argument of my own book. His words often turn to the modern predicament, the sense of 
impending doom many of us feel: 

The fundamental, all-pervasive cause of world instability is the destruction of 
communities by the commercialization of all human relationships and the resulting 
neuroses and psychoses. ..another cause of today's instability is that we now have a 
society.... which is totally dominated by the two elements of sovereignty that are not 
included in the state structure: control of credit and banking, and the corporation. These 
are free to political controls and social responsibility, ...The only element of production 
they are concerned with is the one they can control: capital. 

Quigley alludes to a startling ultimate solution to our problems with school and with 
much else in our now state-obsessed lives, a drawing of critical awareness: 

...out of the Dark Age that followed the collapse of the Carolingian Empire came the 
most magnificent thing. ..the recognition that people can have a society without having a 
state. In other words, this experience wiped out the assumption that is found throughout 
Classical Antiquity, except among unorthodox and heretical thinkers, that the state and 
the society are identical, and therefore you can desire nothing more than to be a citizen, 
(emphasis added) 

A society without a state. If the only value hard reading had was to be able to tune in on 
minds like Quigley's, minds free of fetters, sharp axes with which to strike off chains, 
that alone would be reason enough to put such reading at the heart of a new kind of 
schooling which might strongly resemble the education America offered 150 years ago — 



a movement to ennoble common people, freeing them from the clutches of masters, 
experts, and those terrifying true believers whose eyes gleam in the dark. Quigley thought 
such a transformation was inevitable: 

Now I come to my last statement... I'm not personally pessimistic. The final result will be 
that the American people will ultimately... opt out of the system. Today everything is a 
bureaucratic structure, and brainwashed people who are not personalities are trained to fit 
into this bureaucratic structure and say it is a great life — although I would assume that 
many on their death beds must feel otherwise. The process of copping out will take a long 
time, but notice: we are already copping out of military service on a wholesale basis; we 
are already copping out of voting on a large scale basis.... People are also copping out by 
refusing to pay any attention to newspapers or to what's going on in the world, and by 
increasing emphasis on the growth of localism, what is happening in their own 
neighborhoods.... When Rome fell, the Christian answer was, "Create our own 
communities." 

We shall do that again. When we want better families, better neighbors, better friends, 
and better schools we shall turn our backs on national and global systems, on expert 
experts and specialist specialties and begin to make our own schools one by one, far from 
the reach of systems. 

Did you know that Lear of Lear Jet fame was a dropout? Pierre Cardin, Liz Claiborne, 
the founder of McDonald's, the founder of Wendy 's, Ben Franklin, one in every fifteen 
American millionaires? 

The Bell Curve 

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