149. Soldiers For Their Class: The Underground History of American Education by John Taylor Gatto from archive.org
Soldiers For Their Class
These buried seeds sent up no more than stunted shoots until the late nineteenth century, when skillfully induced mass immigration — cheap Catholic labor by the boatload — triggered a perceived need for emergency social actionon an Anglican model. At that moment, casting about for a blueprint of order in the disturbing period of mass immigration, the new industrial and commercial elites discarded existing American models: the tentative intellectual meritocracy of the Unitarians, the rude nepotism of the Presbyterians, the libertarian democracy of the General Baptists, the proud communitarianism of Congregationalists and Quakers, the religiously centered communities of the pietists; all had to give way since all were both local and particular forms. None could accommodate a general habit of rule from afar very well. None was able to maintain tight enough class discipline. Congregationalists were closest to this ideal, but even they had radically weakened their own theological discipline with the Half-Way Covenant and then thoroughly liberalized themselves in the Second Great Awakening after 1795. None of these forms would do as a universal blueprint of stable government.
Only one acceptable discipline had for centuries proven itself under fire, able to bend diverse, distant, and hostile peoples to its organization, and that was the Anglican Communion. In India, Africa, Asia, Canada, wherever the British flag flew, it had been capable of the hard decisions necessary to maintain a subordinated order and protect the privileges which accrue to those who manage the subordinate classes.
Peter Cookson and Caroline Persell cast a great deal of light on the Anglican temper in their book Preparing For Power: America 's Elite Boarding Schools, particularly the turn-of-the-century period, which saw the creation of almost all of the 289 boarding schools that matter:
The difference between a public school and an elite private school is, in one sense, the difference between factory and club. Public schools are evaluated on how good a product they turn out, and the measure of quality control is inevitably an achievement score of some kind.. ..[but] to compare public and private schools in terms of output really misses the point. 2
Cookson and Persell, searching for reasons to explain the need for total institutions to train the young, concluded: "The shared ordeal of the prep rites of passage create bonds of loyalty that differences in background cannot unravel."
Collective identity forged in prep schools becomes the basis of upper-class solidarity and consciousness, but sharing alone will not preserve or enhance a class's interest. As a group, members must be willing to exercise their power:
The preservation of privilege requires the exercise of power, and those who exercise it cannot be too squeamish about the injuries that any ensuing conflict imposes on the losers. ...The founders of the schools recognized that unless their sons and grandsons were willing to take up the struggle for the preservation of their class interests, privilege would slip from the hands of the elite and eventually power would pass to either a competing elite or to a rising underclass.
Private school students are enlisted as soldiers for their class, like Viking rowers, tough, loyal to each other, "ready to take command without self-doubt." Cookson and Persell say currently, "Boarding schools were not founded to produce Hamlets, but Dukes of Wellington. The whole point of status seminaries is the destruction of innocence. ..not its preservation."
I hope this illuminates those esoteric membership requirements of the Daughters a bit. Whatever your personal outlook on such matters, you need to take seriously the creation of over a hundred new hereditary associations, associations with all the birthmarks of secret societies, which gestated and came to term in the decades froml870 to 1900 (or just outside that narrow compass), each designed that it might in a perfectly orderly, fair way, free of any emotional bias, exclude all unwanted breeding stock by the application of hereditary screening and at the same time concentrate biological and social excellence. In the same time frame, five of the Seven Sisters — the female Ivy League — opened their doors for the first time, concentrating the future motherhood of a new race for its class inoculation.
2. "The inner ring of these schools, which sets the standard for the rest, includes these eighteen: Groton, St. Paul's, Deerfield, Gunnery, Choate, Middlesex, Lawrenceville, Hotchkiss, St. George's, Kent, Hill, Episcopal High (not Episcopal Prep!), Andover, Exeter, Culver Military, Milton Academy, St. Marks, Woodberry Forest, and perhaps one or two more. About 52 percent of the elite boarding schools are connected with the Episcopal Church and 5 percent with the Quaker faith.