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Sunday, May 21, 2017

32. Bad Character As A Management Tool: The Underground History of American Education by John Taylor Gatto from archive.org

Bad Character As A Management Tool 

A large piece of the answer can be found by reading between the lines of an article that 
appeared in the June 1998 issue of Foreign Affairs. Written by Mortimer Zuckerman, 
owner of U.S. News and World Report (and other major publications), the essay praises 
the American economy, characterizing its lead over Europe and Asia as so structurally 
grounded no nation can possibly catch up fori 00 years. American workers and the 
American managerial system are unique. 

You are intrigued, I hope. So was I. Unless you believe in master race biology, our 
advantage can only have come from training of the American young, in school and out, 
training which produces attitudes and behavior useful to management. What might these 
crucial determinants of business success be? 

First, says Zuckerman, the American worker is a pushover. That's my translation, not his, 
but I think it's a fair take on what he means when he says the American is indifferent to 
everything but a paycheck. He doesn't try to tell the boss his job. By contrast, Europe 
suffers from a strong "steam age" craft tradition where workers demand a large voice in 
decision-making. Asia is even worse off, because even though the Asian worker is 
silenced, tradition and government interfere with what business can do. 

Next, says Zuckerman, workers in America live in constant panic; they know companies 
here owe them nothing as fellow human beings. Fear is our secret supercharger, giving 
management flexibility no other country has. In 1996, after five years of record 
profitability, almost half of all Americans in big business feared being laid off. This fear 
keeps a brake on wages. 

Next, in the United States, human beings don't make decisions, abstract formulas do; 
management by mathematical rules makes the company manager-proof as well as 

Finally, our endless consumption completes the charmed circle, consumption driven by 
non- stop addiction to novelty, a habit which provides American business with the only 
reliable domestic market in the world. Elsewhere, in hard times business dries up, but not 
here; here we shop till we drop, mortgaging the future in bad times as well as good. 

Can 't you feel in your bones Zuckerman is right? I have little doubt the fantastic wealth 
of American big business is psychologically and procedurally grounded in our form of 
schooling. The training field for these grotesque human qualities is the classroom. 
Schools train individuals to respond as a mass. Boys and girls are drilled in being bored, 
frightened, envious, emotionally needy, generally incomplete. A successful mass 
production economy requires such a clientele. A small business, small farm economy like 
that of the Amish requires individual competence, thoughtfulness, compassion, and 
universal participation; our own requires a managed mass of leveled, spiritless, anxious, 
familyless, friendless, godless, and obedient people who believe the difference between 
Cheers and Seinfeld is a subject worth arguing about. 

The extreme wealth of American big business is the direct result of school having trained 
us in certain attitudes like a craving for novelty. That's what the bells are for. They don't 
ring so much as to say, "Now for something different." 

An Enclosure Movement For Children 

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