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 majorpublications), 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 worker-proof
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."