Deceiving the Public
Deceiving the public to consolidate power and influence U.S society and culture has roots reaching back America's Industrial Revolution- well, at least ever since there has been a corporate elite enriched by American industry.
The obvious types of American fascists are dealt with on the air and in the press. These demagogues and stooges are fronts for others. Dangerous as these people may be, they are not so significant as thousands of other people who have never been mentioned. The really dangerous American fascists are not those who are hooked up directly or indirectly with the Axis. The FBI has its finger on those. The dangerous American fascist is the man who wants to do in the United States in an American way what Hitler did in Germany in a Prussian way. The American fascist would prefer not to use violence. His method is to poison the channels of public information. With a fascist the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more money or more power.....
If we define an American fascist as one who in case of conflict puts money and power ahead of human beings, then there are undoubtedly several million fascists in the United States. There are probably several hundred thousand if we narrow the definition to include only those who in their search for money and power are ruthless and deceitful. Most American fascists are enthusiastically supporting the war effort. They are doing this even in those cases where they hope to have profitable connections with German chemical firms after the war ends. They are patriotic in time of war because it is to their interest to be so, but in time of peace they follow power and the dollar wherever they may lead.
American fascism will not be really dangerous until there is a purposeful coalition among the cartels, the deliberate poisoners of public information, and those who stand for the K.K.K. type of demagoguery.
This quote is from Henry Wallace in the year 1944. He was Secretary of Agriculture under FDR and then Vice President in Roosevelts second term in office. This writing is timeless. Sad to say, it seems what Wallace forecast has come to pass- we can see the results of a "purposeful coalition" as we see our air and water poisoned, our natural resources sacked for corporate gain. An illegal war prosecuted at the hands of an appointed President, whose largest campaign contributors, the energy and defense industries in collaboration with the media they own making a mockery of Democracy by denying the citizenry the accurate information needed to allow the political system to actually and effectively exist. Deliberate poisoners of public information? One can see by the present Administrations' employ of Iran/Contra criminals its disregard for even an appearance of honesty; while Mr Bush employed outright lies in his State of the Union Address of all things, as did his minions before the UN Security Council as well as before the people repeatedy on television "Talking Head" shows. KKK type demagoguery? O'Reilly with his "wetbacks" and Savage with his "turd world nations" and slurs against gay folks and the disabled along with Limbaugh joining them, lying left and right to get folks to hate even themselves, that special interest group "the working poor" that constitutes the vast majority of Americans, and a majority of his listener demographic.
The American fascists are most easily recognized by their deliberate perversion of truth and fact. Their newspapers and propaganda carefully cultivate every fissure of disunity, every crack in the common front against fascism. They use every opportunity to impugn democracy. They use isolationism as a slogan to conceal their own selfish imperialism. They cultivate hate and distrust of both Britain and Russia. They claim to be super-patriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution. They demand free enterprise, but are the spokesmen for monopoly and vested interest. Their final objective toward which all their deceit is directed is to capture political power so that, using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously, they may keep the common man in eternal subjection.
Alright, so today there is little talk of isolationism, Mr Bush and his neocon Administration have used fear based propaganda to stoke up a love of Empire, of a so-called Pax Americana among the less well informed, with media complicity the present US regime has done all Mr Wallace ascribes to the American Fascists of his day. I find it truly amazing that the masses of Americans would be so easily led to vote and act out against their own best interests.
John Taylor Gatto can offer a few well footnoted clues as to why the majority of our populace seems to have difficulty in cutting through the smoke and mirrors that comprise what we call "The News" Why it seems the masses of us are not bothered by contradictory statements coming from those who govern us. Why "we the people" sit passively by for the most part as Mr Bush tells baldfaced lies that even our entertainment drenched short term memories realize are pure BS. I'd ask you to go to your local independent bookstore and grab two things, one, the September edition of Harpers that has a Gatto piece as the "headliner"(subscribe to Harpers, trust me on this one) , two, get yourself a copy of "Everything You Know is Wrong" (edited by Russ Kick of the indispensable website The Memory Hole) that has another more extensive version covering the same subject- just what are the aims and philosophical underpinnings of 20th century compulsory schooling? And who has financed and promoted this new compulsory education?
Between 1896 and 1920, a small group of industrialists and financiers, together with their private charitable foundations, subsidized university chairs, university researchers, and school administrators, spending more money on forced schooling than did the government itself. Carnegie and Rockefeller, as late as 1915, were themselves spending more. In this laissez-faire fashion a system of modern schooling was constructed without public participation. The motives for this are undoubtedly mixed, but it will be useful for you to hear an excerpt from the first mission statement of Rockefeller's General Education Board as it occurred in a document called Occasional Letter Number One (1906):
In our dreams, people yield themselves with perfect docility to our molding hands. The present educational conventions [intellectual and character education] fade from our minds, and unhampered by tradition we work our own good will upon a grateful and responsive folk. We shall not try to make these people or any of their children into philosophers or men of learning or men of science. We have not to raise up from among them authors, educators, poets or men of letters. We shall not search for embryo great artists, painters, musicians, nor lawyers, doctors, preachers, politicians, statesmen, of whom we have ample supply. The task we set before ourselves is very simple ... we will organize children ... and teach them to do in a perfect way the things their fathers and mothers are doing in an imperfect way.
The above quotation is from "Some Lessons from the Underground History of American Education by John Taylor Gatto. His references to the "experts" of their day are truly frightening- and eye opening. As we see the gap between the richest and the majority of Americans steadily widening, outright lying to the populace an accepted tool of governance and the acceptance of the Corporate/Government nexus as normal in our lives it seems these far seeing social engineers are, long after their individual deaths, well on the way to realize their anti-American goal of an elite comfortably riding roughshod over the majority of us. Plantation USA.
If you have a hard time believing this revolution in the contract ordinary Americans had with their political State was intentionally provoked, it's time to meet William Torrey Harris, US Commissioner of Education from 1889 to 1906. Nobody else who rose out of the ranks of professional pedagogues, other than Cubberley, ever had the influence Harris did. Harris standardized our schools and Germanized them. Listen as he speaks in 1906:
Ninety-nine [students] out of a hundred are automata, careful to walk in prescribed paths, careful to follow the prescribed custom. This is not an accident but the result of substantial education, which, scientifically defined, is the subsumption of the individual.
-The Philosophy of Education (1906)..
Listen again to Harris, giant of American schooling, leading scholar of German philosophy in the Western hemisphere, editor/publisher of The Joumal of Speculative Philosophy which trained a generation of American intellectuals in the ideas of the Prussian thinkers Kant and Hegel, the man who gave America scientifically age-graded classrooms to replace successful mixed-age school practice:
The great purpose of school can be realized better in dark, airless, ugly places.... It is to master the physical self, to transcend the beauty of nature. School should develop the power to withdraw from the external world.
-The Philosophy of Education (1906)..
Nearly a hundred years ago, this schoolman thought that self-alienation was the secret to successful industrial society. Surely he was right. When you stand at a machine or sit at a computer, you require an ability to withdraw from life, to alienate yourself without a supervisor. How else could that be tolerated unless prepared in advance by simulated Birkenhead drills? School, thought Harris, was sensible preparation for a life of alienation. Can you say he was wrong?
What was your experience of public school? Unbridled learning or boredom and disaffection with the whole process? My sense was that we moved on slowly overall, only to cover much the same material the first half of the next year. I remember the popular kids, dumb kids, the scapegoat kids, the poor kids. the weird kids- the pecking order. I'm guessing I was one of the weird kids, the ones that liked art, that read too much. One book I read in high school gave me a philosophical base to argue with instructors that cared about why I thought the whole school experience seemed largely like a waste of time was Ivan Illich's Deschooling Society. I offer it as food for thought because it came to mind and I found it in its entirety here on the 'Net. Interesting to see after twenty-something years have passed.
I hope Gatto and Illich offer some insight, a jumping off point for ones own thought- most of us have been through public school and through that commonality can rate the writers accuracy. What do you think?
The thought of masses of kids running in the streets or being impressed into underpaid factory jobs just like many of their Moms and Dads used to have; well they had them before "Free Trade" sent most U.S factory work to China scares me. I offer no options, just hope that seeing what the wellsprings of education are in the U.S moves you and helps strengthen your resolve to keep active in the larger struggle of taking America back and working toward our nations promise.
I see my good friend's beautiful daughter's misspelled writing, some letters backwards, hung up and am told it is ok, "they" want the student to feel comfortable expressing themselves, even if it is in a non-standard way. I see the same child rushing to get an electronic calculator to do simple math. This is a very bright wonderful young person. I did some work for a newspaper near one of the largest military bases in America which featured articles written at only a sixth grade level. I see the stupidity of what passes for a majority of television entertainment is obvious, but people stare at the "idiot box" unable to entertain themselves. I see masses of folks that can just about sign their paycheck listening to Rush Limbaugh and effectively being led to hate their own class as well as anyone who is different, whether that difference is in ones race, religion, sex, sexual orientation or intellectual functioning level. If you listen to the blowhards of hate you'll find that thinking is elitist. When I see these things I see America's promise denied. One more quote from Gatto:
Since Aristotle, thinkers have understood that work is the vital theater of self-knowledge. Schooling in concert with a controlled workplace is the most effective way ever devised to foreclose the development of imagination. But where did these radical doctrines of true belief come from? Who spread them? We get at least part of the answer from the tantalizing clue Walt Whitman left when he said that "only Hegel is fit for America." Hegel was the protean Prussian philosopher capable of shaping Karl Marx on one hand and J.P. Morgan on the other; the man who taught a generation of prominent Americans that history itself could be controlled by the deliberate provoking of crises. Hegel was sold to America in large measure by William Torrey Harris, who made Hegelianism his lifelong project and forced schooling its principal instrument in its role as a peerless agent provocateur.
Harris was inspired by the notion that correctly managed mass schooling would result in a population so dependent on leaders that schism and revolution would be things of the past. If a world could be cobbled together by Hegelian tactical manipulation, and such a school plan imposed upon it, history itself would stop. No more wars, no civil disputes, just people waiting around pleasantly like the Eloi in Wells' The Time Machine. Waiting for Teacher to tell them what to do. The psychological tool was alienation. The was to alienate children from themselves so they couldn't turn inside for strength, to alienate them from their families, religions, cultures, etc. so no countervailing force could intervene.
Indoctrination and alienation as tools of social control. Americans "controlled by the deliberate provoking of crises" "They cultivate hate and distrust..." "If we define an American fascist as one who in case of conflict puts money and power ahead of human beings..." Welcome to 21st century America. We can diagnose the sickness and together, work for the cure.
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Another John Taylor Gatto resource:
Spinning Globe Gatto Page