When I wrote Credentialed to Destroy and then later started this blog, I knew I could trace what was actually occurring, even if I did not always understand precisely why or the reason for so much deceit. After all, I am a lawyer and so many of the changes were being enshrined into law so that the tracking was easy and the intended results mandatory. When I wrote about the Social Reconstructionists I did not yet grasp that in the early 1980s, after a series of lectures at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government (no wonder it later created a PEPG-Program on Education Policy and Governance to implement its aims), that laid out how Conservatism was now to be redefined in terms of a new role for government that would create institutions and new ideas that would “retrace our cultural steps, and rethink what we think.” That would certainly explain the sudden interest in using the techniques of Tranzi OBE and mandated learning standards, wouldn’t it?
Apparently, after “two centuries of cultivating the physical world, Americans have been prodigies of productivity” so that now it was time to “place the focus of government on the intellectual and moral world within us.” Do tell. I am quoting from a George Will 1983 book called Statecraft as Soulcraft: What Government Does that I found as I was following up on both this push for Cultural Evolution using a so-called Science of Virtue as well as the communitarian push I kept stumbling across as supposedly necessary for ‘citizenship’ in the 21st century in a Republic. Brought to us by the same people who work for think tanks that cannot manage to accurately explain what the Common Core is really about and what competency-based education really entails. Perhaps this is why:
that inner world is what ‘concerns fitness for republican government’…the most important revolution of all is the ‘revolution in sentiments, manners, and moral opinions’. It will be said, instantly and energetically and broadly, that ‘sentiments, manners, and moral opinions’ are none of the government’s business. Are they not ‘private’ and properly beyond the legitimate concern of public agencies? No, they are not…
political order needs to be concerned about the inner lives of the people…and the character of the citizenry…By the legislation of morality I mean the enactment of laws and implementation of policies that will prescribe, mandate, regulate, or subsidize behavior that will, over time, have the predictable effect of nurturing, bolstering, or altering habits, dispositions and values on a broad scale…
Government would do better if it admits what it is doing.
Yes, it would, but since that might create a public outcry, create repercussions at the ballot box, or affect fundraising for think tanks, it is left for me to lay that out. Explains so much, doesn’t it? Especially my documentation of the affirmative, normative use of the law in a revised vision of education. George Will emphasized his point by quoting US Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter, in a famous case concerning compulsory flag salutes, as writing that “Law is concerned with the external behavior and not the ‘inner life of man.'” Then Will responded with “The purpose of this book is to explain why that proposition is radically wrong.” I had called attention in my last several posts of the use of Greek philosopher Aristotle as a substitute for a vision that I recognize as Marxist Humanism. Hyping the Claasical roots in antiquity lets the vision escape the infamy of that ‘M’ word.
Will may well be the originator of this substitution as he expounded on how Aristotle was “a founder of:
conservatism, properly understood, because his realism did not preclude a politics that takes its bearings from what ought to be. The United States acutely needs a real conservatism, characterized by a concern to cultivate the best persons and the best in persons…A purpose of politics is to facilitate, as much as is prudent, the existence of worthy passions and the achievement of worthy aims. It is to help persons want what they ought to want. Politics should share one purpose with religion: the steady emancipation of the individual through the education of his passions.
I keep thinking of the Chinese Social Credit System that so-called ‘conservative’ writers keep calling attention to, and wondering if the real concern is simply that the Chinese are being too overt with their Reeducation or Recrimination Program to get desired Results. What precisely are these ‘worthy passions’ and ‘worthy aims’ in a vision that goes on to describe a vision of education where “true conservatives have a soft spot in their hearts for organic collectivity.” So do admitted progressives and they too have big plans for also using education for “nurturing of the shared ‘national mind’.” Heck, at least the Progs admit that the desired transformation of the individual’s ‘inner life’ is just a tool to get a desired global consciousness amenable to the desired changes and the “bridling of egoistic motives.”
My accurate tracking all these years using the law makes far more sense now that we have found this reimagining that “we must rethink today’s constricted notion of the legitimate uses of the law…It is time to come up from individualism.” After all, in this new vision of Conservatism, “a function of government is the modification of [citizenry] habits.” The Diversity of this country back in the 1980s, which is nothing compared to what immigration has done in the interim to now, was supposedly a reason that necessitated “law concerned with values as well as actions–with mind as well as body. They necessiate law as a ratifier and stigmatizer, in which role law is a tutor.” In other words, government at all levels and education as its favorite tool committed to realizing a vision where:
what is at issue is not coercion, it is not compelling persons to act against their settled convictions, it is not a collision of wills, the state’s and the citizens. Rather, it is a slow, steady, gentle, educative and persuasive enterprise. Its aim is to dispose citizens toward certain habits, mores and values, and to increase the probability that persons will choose to will certain things.
One of the discussions I have had when I first called attention to Tranzi OBE and commenters I later found to be involved with the False Narrative would treat the problem as simply a wrongful area for the FEDERAL government, while I saw the shift as Totalitarian for ANY level of government, came to mind when I read this passage from Will’s reenvisoning:
…proper conservatives proclaim, as Burke did, the gentling functions of government. Proper conservatism teaches that authority does not form on high, in the clouds, and clatter down, painfully, like Kansas hail stones. Rather, conservatism teaches that authority grows organically from the rich loam of social mores and structures.
…the urgent tasks of government include mending and maintaining the ‘chain of community’…The political system must also incorporate altruistic motives…Altruism–principled regard for others–is not optional.
No wonder we have had such a dance over what social and emotional learning is and whether it can be discussed, if, quietly, the authors of so many books or articles have their income from a source that pushes covertly this reimagining of what Conservatism and a new role for governments actually is. Someone who believes in the following quote needs the tool of Tranzi OBE, whatever they mask it with as a euphemism:
Justice depends, therefore, on a certain disposition, It depends on–in a sense, it is– a state of mind. A society that is organized socially and justified philosophically the way ours is must take special care to supply itself with the rhetoric, institutions and policies that encourage that state of mind.
And try to silence interlopers like me who accurately lay out what education is really altering and who actually benefits from the shift. After all, this may be a vision that wants to use the “skill of disposing persons to think of public as well as private interests,” but if the history of the consistent outcry over Outcomes-Based Education tells us anything it is that no one really wanted this level of forthcomingness to be tied to these education reforms that have functioned the same in terms of the true desired results over the intervening decades. Virtue and Character sound so good as a major goal of ‘student-centered education’ that is holistic and creates agency. Those euphemisms sound so much better, don’t they, than the actual aspiration:
That is why I am so concerned about the shaping of passions and desires in the direction of virtue. By virtue I mean nothing arcane or obscure. I mean good citizenship, whose principal components are moderation, social sympathy and willingness to sacrifice private desires for public ends.
What happens to citizens in a polity where education is being covertly hijacked to “nurture the habit of regarding our fellow citizens as united in a great common enterprise”? Especially one that touts School Choice as a feint to obscure the actual coordination and sought transformations in the student and to the polity?
Good to be back. Hopefully there will be no more unexpected interruptions as there is so much going on now.