Mass education of populations, originally developed as a means of improving the military readiness of the population in an era of mass conscription, has developed into a tool for the preparation of mass bureaucratic labor forces. Because mass conscription has lost its military relevance and has lost the political support of Western elites, education has turned into a sort of vestigial bureaucracy mostly dedicated towards its own survival and expansion.
The modern education system developed as a response to the military and political innovations of Napoleon. In America, their character was also shaped by the desire of Protestant denominations to exercise social control over the burgeoning Catholic population.
Today, most mass education advocates downplay the original institutional motives. Instead, they talk about education being a combination of a way for children to become ‘fully-formed’ individuals, prepare them for the labor market, and make them into good citizens. On the left, it’s openly considered a means of inculcating right political thinking. The standards that educational institutions hold students to are bureaucratic standards rather than other standards. The chief expectation is that it will prepare people for a life of either paperwork or academia rather than manual or artisan work — especially as courses like home economics and shop class have fallen out of fashion and lost status.
Standard education is also a force for increasing labor fungibility — which is to say that one laborer of a certain academic class can be substituted for another, rather than different laborers being so specialized that it be reflected in their surname, as was the case before the era of mass mobilization.
What’s important about developing a bureaucrat is creating the correct emotional temperament. It doesn’t have much to do with cultivating excellence, because the presence of excellence tends to be disruptive to any bureaucratic setting, as excellence tends to be unpredictable and challenging to account for. Adult bureaucrats tend to complain a lot about ‘stress,’ in part because they have been trained from an early age to respond to distress resulting from verbal disapproval by authorities and peers. This takes a lot of repetitive operant conditioning, which is one of the top reasons why school curricula tend to be so repetitive and pointless on the surface. The purpose isn’t to create good calculators or a labor force aware of trigonometry, but to create a mass of people who are docile, predictable, and easily frightened into compliance.
The long term consequence of this has been an overproduction in clerk-like personalities. Because the state mandates that everyone go through clerk training, you wind up with a homogenous population marked by the character traits that have been historically associated with clerks — bad physical health, obedience to authority, intense respect for arbitrary rules, a weak aesthetic sensibility, an obsession with official approval, and androgyny.
Rather than a more diverse society in which people tend to judge one another based on their character or their ability to fulfill a given social role, everyone tends to be graded on how much of an ideal bureaucrat they are. This has become more pronounced as implicit pacifism has become the dominant way of life for most Western elites after World War II and especially after the antiwar eruption of the 1970s and 80s, which made mass military preparedness a low priority. As military pursuits have become more professionalized, the American republic has come to lean on first a ‘professional’ military, and now increasingly mercenary forces, which suggests that the popular republic is on the way out as a political form.
In a super-bureaucratic society, anyone who is not a bureaucrat tends to be regarded as a bad or unclean person without dignity and deserving of pity. This is one of the reasons why American thinkers tend to pathologize any mode of production or way of life that doesn’t involve a life of desk work. And even modes of life that don’t involve desk work need to be brought under the rule and regulation of desk-workers — physical space must be brought under ‘code,’ while mental work can be left relatively free — Peter Thiel says that this is the reason for the divergence in the rate of innovation between the ‘world of bits’ and the ‘world of atoms.’
The world of atoms is a dangerous, conflict-ridden world — it creates intolerable levels of anxiety for a hothouse bureaucrat-people who have been protected from physical discomfort and exertion from an early age. The physical world is dirty, unpredictable, and dangerous when compared to the climate-controlled office or classroom.
Everywhere that this mass education model has been in place for significant amounts of time, there is an oversupply in aimless bureaucrat-people without bureaucracies to stuff them into. Europe in particular suffers from ‘mass youth unemployment,’ especially among the educated, which is because they have been educated to fill slots in imaginary bureaucracies which both don’t exist and are uneconomical where they do exist. Because educational bureaucracies have watered down their own standards over the years to be able to accommodate the entire population, many of these aimless bureaucrats are also unsuited for any pursuit that requires much real expertise. Further, their mentalities have been shaped to expect a didactic, predictable, safe, office-existence in which people tell them what they need to ‘learn,’ and then they complete an assignment graded by a light hand.
In the third world and near-third-world, the problem is even more acute, as their economies aren’t even developed enough to support substantial bureaucracies, but their labor forces have been trained for an economy that doesn’t exist based on the faith that the supply of bureaucrats creates its own demand.
Historically, there is a way to give unemployed would-be-burocrats their desired jobs. Poliical revolutions that increase the size and power of the central state.
Both the French and Russian revolutions, and also decolonization, were preceded by mass education efforts aimed at creating a bureaucratic class of non-nobles directly linked to the monarch (or in the case of colonial empires, linked to the metropole instead of the traditional rulers). Of course it backfired when the masses of graduates from newly-created schools and universities presented their self-righteous claims for government jobs and sinecures that the traditional monarchies couldn’t really fulfill, so they get rid of it.
“the supply of bureaucrats creates its own demand.” The1st world’s expertise with other people’s money(e.g. from tax revenues)–> good, $$$ foreign aid program is a wonderful OPM training manual. The concepts are easily learned and applied, no matter how poorly taught.
Excellent writing. I had not thought of things that way before. I thought I should mention some related sites/books.
1. Invisible Serfs Collar, dealing with modern education turning out members of the Borg collective as described above.
2. Seeing Like a State (James C. Scott). The book sub-title is not all that important. “Seeing Like a State” is the main title. Part deals with the state and modern need to force everything into something easily represented on paper, like a flow chart.
3. Books by N. N Taleb. Deals with much, including modern forcing economics and finance into formulas that always fail but are tidy and can be ‘managed’ by bureaucrats, public and private.
Have read and enjoyed #2 and #3. Thanks for the suggestion. I’d also recommend John Taylor Gatto’s “Underground History of American Education,” available here for free: http://mhkeehn.tripod.com/ughoae.pdf
“The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America” non abridged E-book
Every so often I’ll read an essay that, more than anything, just causes me to feel deep regret and mild anger at myself over the fact that I’m not the person who wrote it.
This is one of them.
I feel like that every time I read something here, and I’ve read everything on this site.
SFC Ton says
After the War of Northern Aggression, the yankees were clear about wanting to control education as a way to control the South and the narrative
Say Ton. How has the South resisted this encroachment? Are they successful in doing so?
SFC Ton says
Poorly and depends on the issue and place, sadly we still play into their frame way to often. I have been hitting the flag rallies which are a pretty good sign of resistances but yet most folks there still worry about looking racists
Same can be said about dealing with the beaner invasion.
We were way head of the power curve on gun stuff, but some of the other places are caching up.
Mixed bag really and with the beaner invasion and transplants we are less Southern every day. We are most def on a time hack.
If people stop caring being called whatever “ist” for recognizing and acting on truth. It will be a big improvement.
SFC Ton says
Agreed my friend. Often enough I think it’s step one
Its the elites trying to survive their own illegitimacy.
It is pretty simple really, the entire function of government now is essentially the regimes which control the various factions constituting the federal government exist to survive their illegitimate existence.
What else are they there for?
The outward appearance of actions the actors of the state and its various courts of influence and corruption present for appearances sake are just that, window dressing now.
The only way the state can survive now is to enslave or kill as many as is useful to its continued existence. It is that inflection point we have crossed over.
You said it yourself Mr. Dampier, corporate slave class. But I think the serfdom doesn’t end with useful dupes. It can’t. Tyranny doesn’t suffer anything it can’t control with a jack boot or an iron fist.
And that’s this leviathans conundrum. There are too many Kulaks with guns. It is a real problem for those running things. Guns aren’t like money, or jobs, or traditions, or cultural norms, or industrial/agricultural prosperity, or centers of thinking and reason, or social construct. Guns are real things that a simple man can hold in his hand. Guns are portable sovereignty. Guns are an extension of a mans liberty. Guns are unique in the entire sphere of human activity. To take a gun from a freeman who refuses to comply in order to make him defenseless, you have to kill him, the hard way. Freemen with guns are not malleable to your dissimulations, nor can you manipulate him with cunning and gile. People who are free in their hearts who have guns are not afraid of tyrants and their tyranny. It is the tyrants who are afraid.
But most of all, it isn’t guns that are so dangerous to tyrants, it is the consent that I refused by those with guns. That is the extension of a freeman with a gun.
I think consent, or rather withdrawal of consent, is the most powerful weapon ever devised against tyranny.
Like the gun, consent is something which can only be given. It can’t be taken.
I think too Mr. Dampeir, the time of the state is over. It has run its course, the state has poisoned the world in every way. It has never been anything but a device of tyrants and tyranny.
There is really only one way out of this quagmire of slavery and totalitarianism. Its secession. Abolition of the state. By that I’m saying it is people who have to secede from the clutches of the state. The state can not exist without consent, tacit or otherwise. It needs slaves and serfs to exist. The state creates nothing, produces nothing, to support its existence. It requires masses of willing dupes to satisfy its insatiable appetite for others productivity and wealth.
Just try putting the leviathan on a diet.
Everyone is searching for a panacea to the state. An answer to our problems created by the state.
When the answer is staring us all right in the face when we look in the mirror.
It is us. We are the answer. We always have been our own savings grace. The states power or otherwise.
It begins with each of us. Always has. The state never changed that. It is us who changed that. And it is us who have the power to change that. Nobody or nothing else.
We are the state because we make the state possible, or not possible. That comes down to that thing called consent.
Only we can give or take our consent.
All arguments aside and endless discussion of the nuances and symptoms of what’s breathing down our throats at son point ain’t worth a bucket of warm spit. What matters, what is going to change things, the world around us begins with only one thing.
It all begins with each of us.
Aratosh Saar says
Physical labour isn’t regulated because bureaucrats want things regulated.
It’s regulated because it’s full of things that can kill, maim, wound, or cause long term health problems.
Workplace regulations are a result of labourers fighting for better work condtions, not were invented by clerks.
The article clearly shows that clerks can’t imagine what it’s like to be a physical labourer and do some wild speculation divorced from reality.
Intellectuals. They dindu nuffin.
“Workplace regulations are a result of labourers fighting for better work conditions, not were invented by clerks.”
Earlier workplace regulations were. IMO most recent regulations ARE created by clerks/bureaucrats to make themselves feel good about themselves and to ‘do something.’ Many of these laws/regs mandate better work conditions until there is no work. My background is in chemical/oil/food plants, not assembly lines. I confess I am combining OSHA and EPA types of regs.
With rare exception, industry cannot be allowed to only self police with no govt regulations or tort law. There is such a thing as ‘too much.’
Steve Jobs used his one meeting with Pres. Obama to offer again to work on his 2012 campaign, and to inform him that Apple had to have it new glass plants for iphone glass built in China because of govt regulations, not labor savings.
The world of atoms (work) is increasingly outlawed by clerks because some ‘stuff’ can leak onto floors, end up in holding ponds and streams, go into the air, and into the soil, as it always has. The world of bits is cleaner. People who used to work with stuff can try got govt work or SSD/SSI. US workers will never be harmed in the Apple Chinese glass plants.
They won’t be ‘harmed,’ but they won’t have jobs, either. Considering that we’re all fated to decay and die, ultra-caution is not always rational.