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An American Affidavit

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

201. Serving The Imperial Virus: The Underground History of American Education by John Taylor Gatto from archive.org

201. Serving The Imperial Virus: The Underground History of American Education by John Taylor Gatto from archive.org

Serving The Imperial Virus

  Toynbee thought he could calculate Britain's jeopardy if it allowed the masses dreams of  independence by a comparison with the Soviet Russia where revolutionary dreaming  once dictated social arrangements:  

     In Marxian Communism we have a notorious example in our midst of a modern Western  philosophy which changed in a lifetime quite out of recognition into a proletarian  religion, taking the path of violence and carving its New Jerusalem with the sword on the  plains of Russia.   

     The working-class proletariat conceived by Toynbee is in a permanent childlike state, one  that requires constant management. Because of this ongoing necessity, a second  proletariat must be created, "a special social class" which represents a professionalized     proletariat, "often quite abruptly and artificially" gathered by the national leadership to  aid in managing the lumpish mass of ordinary folk. 

      The size this bureaucratic cohort will reach depends upon the circumstances which call it  into being. If the dominant minority decides to wage war, for instance, a vast enlargement  of noncoms and line officers will occur; if it decides to concentrate public attention on  charitable benevolence, a mushrooming of social work positions will ensue; if the public  is to be kept fearfully amused and titillated by the spectacle of crime and law  enforcement, a new horde of police and detectives will be trained and commissioned. The  social management of public attention is a vital aspect of modern states. To the extent  that schools, together with commercial entertainment, control an important share of the  imagination of the young, they must be heavily involved in such a project. There is no  possibility they can be allowed to opt out. Social management of public attention through  schooling can be seen as very similar to management of public attention by corporate  advertising and by public relations initiatives. Mass production demands psychological  interventions intended to create wants that otherwise wouldn't exist. Among its other  roles, school is an important agent of this initiative. 

      The professional proletariats created to do this important task and others like it can be  seen, says Toynbee, to be "a special class of liaison officer" between the governing  minorities and the masses. This English way of seeing middle classes clears some of the  fog away. Consider the real- life effect of an abstract rule of first allegiance to  management on those schoolteachers who work too intimately with parents, or struggle in  children's interests too resolutely — inevitably they become marked for punishment. Good  teachers from the human perspective are natural system-wreckers. They don't fit  comfortably into a service class designed to assist governing elites to manage. Their  hearts aren't in it. 

      Toynbee is brutally candid about where loyal pedagogues fit: "As the [imperial] virus  works deeper into the social life of the society which is in the process of being permeated  and assimilated, the intelligentsia develops its most characteristic types: the  schoolmaster... the civil servant... the lawyer...." 

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