One of the top stories at the Washington Post website today is about a rape trial at St. Paul’s, one of the most prestigious boarding high schools in the US. The details of the case don’t really matter — the allegations could either be entirely true or entirely false and it wouldn’t be all that relevant — what’s more interesting is the wave of trepidation that goes through liberals over the experience of co-education in practice as it compares to the grand theories that motivated the gender integration project of the 1960s and 70s.
St. Paul’s only became co-ed in 1971. Before that, it was a single sex institution. Like a lot of factors in American life, the hyper-focus on the events of the present tend to demolish memories of even the recent past.
Rather like civil rights and integration were supposed to bring equality between the races — but they devastated dozens of formerly thriving American cities instead — co-education has degraded countless institutions. The same educational institutions dominated by the left at every level have come to be condemned by that same left as honeycombed with wreckers: white male rapists who are ruining the grand integration project with their schemes.
The failures of co-ed are closely related to mass immigration. Because large parts of the native population decided to push both men and women into the workforce — and managerial elites saw immigration as a way to kill two birds with one stone — plug the gap in population growth while improving diplomatic relations with the newly independent third world nations.
President Truman’s commission on American immigration policy laid the groundwork for the abolition of the national quota system. It made the case to the public less in technocratic terms and more in terms of how it fit with America’s longstanding political-philosophical commitments. There was a broad institutional consensus which was also ecumenical. There was also a (false) scientific consensus at the time which concluded that different human races are not biologically distinct from one another.
The rationale for opening up immigration also had a lot to do with the anticipated needs of the progressive economy. Because wartime central planning required the creation of hundreds of thousands of new jobs (not by the market process, but through dictatorial fiat), the first stages of mass immigration and mass internal migration (especially of rural blacks to the industrial north) were required to meet the demand shock.
Essentially, progressives created enormous quantities of make-work fake jobs, and then proclaimed there was a labor shortage — which there was, to meet the demand of a less efficient, more centrally planned economy. They then pushed enormous numbers of foreigners and women into an economy overburdened with make-work projects, causing all sorts of economic and social chaos.
The Truman commission also made the funny insinuation that Japan may have been offended into launching the Pearl Harbor attacks due to discriminatory immigration policies. This is doubly funny in the light of Japan’s contemporary exclusive immigration policies, which globalists often criticize even today. It was also believed that opening up American immigration was critical to countering nationalist propaganda in the third world as well as Communist propaganda about the corruption of the West.
Few of those are justifications today which motivate ongoing mass integration project are still relevant, but understanding how it all fits together helps to explain why it still has so much institutional support.
By the time that these policies really began to make themselves felt — the 1970s — industry in the US was already becoming less competitive internationally, and the claims that there was a real ‘labor shortage’ began to become more ridiculous.
Tying this back in to liberals horrified by the implementation of coed in practice while extolling it as necessary in theory, liberals often make persuasive arguments for a new policy on a theoretical, debating-hall basis based on a set of shared assumptions about philosophy. These arguments eventually become institutionalized. When the institutions fail to fulfill the promise set out by the dialectic which spawned them, it doesn’t really matter, because the intellectuals who keep the whole tower of words buzzing care more about keeping the dialectic going than actually checking whether or not their premises were correct and if their predictions about their policies have been accurate.