Collectivism is one of those loaded words that sounds like I am trying to create a furor. Unfortunately, in this case, whatever the personal intentions of Texas Governor Abbott when he called Friday, January 8, for a Constitutional Convention, the actual release http://gov.texas.gov/files/press-office /Restoring_The_Rule_Of_Law_01082016.pdf may be one of the more deceitful documents I have ever read. It is deeply irritating to continue to be referred to as one of ‘the governed.’ Although since I live in Georgia, perhaps it is only Texans that are to be quietly subjugated at this point. Perhaps the author of the paper, a Texas Public Policy Foundation (another Atlas Network member) employee, Thomas Lindsay, who was previously with the National Endowment for the Humanities, is unaware that the phrase ‘We the People’ is now being used by radicals all over the world to promote the concept of a binding, collectivist, normative view of ‘democracy’.
Maybe the call of UT-Texas prof Sanford Levinson in his 2006 book Our Democratic Constitution: Where the Constitution Goes Wrong (And How We the People Can Correct It) for just such a Con Con that is tied to the Soros-financed American Constitution Society’s desire to have a new Constitutional vision by 2020 (began in 2005 as explained here) http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/progressive-polyphonic-federalism-invisibly-binds-people-and-places-to-the-just-society-vision/ was somehow news to TPPF and Dr Lindsay. It certainly looks like a Convergence, however, especially given all the insistence in the paper that the Rule of Law is the core value America was founded on. Excuse me?
Maybe it’s just a coincidence that ‘We the People’ just happens to be the name of an initiative Community-Organizer Extraordinaire Harry Boyte, who inspired President Obama and has worked on White House education initiatives, has created to be the so-called Third Way, neither Left or Right, to use education to get his ‘cooperative commonwealth’ vision in place. https://www.kettering.org/sites/default/files/product-downloads/We_The-People_Politics.pdf Maybe it’s a coincidence that Boyte created that paper originally for a Dewey lecture in 2007 and it just happens to fit John Dewey’s vision for how to create the right kind of consciousness via education to fit a normative democracy where the law would bind everyone to the common good vision. The one laid out in the 2008 Democracy in a Global World book that I tracked from looking at Amartya Sen’s work covered in the last post.
Let’s start pushing on all these ‘coincidences’ headed in a common direction. The quote that “Our nation was built on one principle above all others–the Rule of Law” is not simply false, it is false in a way that is useful in jettisoning the principles our Nation and its existing Constitution were founded on–the primacy of the individual. Lindsay is correct that at the federal level, politics is broken. That dysfunction, however, is no reason to reverence the Law so state and local governments can turn each individual into merely the Governed. It is facetious to argue, as that Con Con advocacy paper does, that “The whole point of the rule of law is that we comply with it even when we do not want to; otherwise, it is the will of man and not the rule of law that reigns supreme.” Huh? That’s the kind of sophistry a wannabe tyrant would assert.
As Daniel Hannan quoted Baron de Montesquieu as saying in his 2013 book Inventing Freedom: “I am in a country which scarcely resembles the rest of Europe. England is passionately fond of liberty, and every individual is independent.” When the phrase ‘We the People’ is used in various American 18th century documents it is referring to independent, sovereign individuals who believe in a “unique legal system that made the state subject to the people rather than the reverse.” That TPPF framing of the Rule of Law is the Continental View of the Law that Hannan contrasted with the very different “philosophy…from the common-law conception of a free society as an aggregation of free individuals.” It is a view of law grounded in collectivism, as Hannan noted, and “in particular, from Rousseau’s belief in the ‘general will’ of the people in place of the private rights of citizens.”
A conception of the Law grounded in the visionary who gave rise to both Fascism and Communism as the basis for a call to jettison the current Constitution is apparently what the admitted Left as well as quite a few Atlas members want as well. A reverence for individuality is an obstacle to the Convergence apparently. The US Constitution is in the way. I am going to use a particular essay “The Global Public and Its Problems” to illustrate what was meant by John Dewey by the term ‘Creating a Public’ through educational practices. In 1927 Dewey wrote a book The Public and Its Problems which called for a communitarian form of citizen loyalty as being necessary to create the public will and values to make democracy sustainable. This is not democracy as some kind of representative government with periodic elections, but democracy in the sense that Boyte calls the cooperative commonwealth, Marx called the Human Development Society, and the UN now calls Dignity for All by 2030.
In other words, there are reasons that the concepts from a 1927 book remain relevant in the 21st Century as the first chapter of my book Credentialed to Destroy made clear. Dewey defined the Public as a community where “its members recognize a common interest in confronting problems they all face and see resolving these problems by means of collective action as a common good.” Regular readers will recognize the current concept of Fostering Communities of Learners as the measure of what constitutes being an Effective Principal as using the school to now prepare students for a future where they get to be a mere member of Dewey’s concept of a Public. Needless to say, Dewey’s Public needs a strong, anti-individual view of the law to bind individuals to this broader vision.
Here is where the story laid out in the essay gets really interesting and directly relevant to our Convergence today. “Problem-solving is used as a self-building process” where “education figures prominently.” In fact Dewey called on it, like Boyte, for “bringing a certain integrity, cohesion, feeling of sympathy and unity among the elements of our population.” This, of course, can only happen in socioeconomically integrated schools with no tracking. The kind of deliberative democracy envisioned then and now can really only go on at the local level. In the late 1960s, that essay announced that (my bolding):
“the Eurocommunists (misleadingly so described because they included Communist party theorists and leaders from Japan and parts of South America as well as from Italy, France, Spain, and Great Britain) rejected this standpoint [the bourgeois/proletarian distinction] in favor of one that posited general democratic and political norms, potentially shared by them and by champions of capitalism within their respective nations.”
Couldn’t we describe that as the model for today’s Convergence we are seeing by the so-called Left and Right think tanks? Doesn’t that fit with the video in the comments of the previous post of Pastor Rick Warren this year moderating a forum with Professor Cornel West and Professor Robert George, the founder of Atlas member–American Principles Project? Have we once again returned to Dewey’s view of education, political life, and social policy that the Eurocommunists also used that “resisted both sides of this orientation by seeking common democracy building social projects.” I was at a forum last week where Policy Link founder Angela Glover Blackwell was the Keynote Speaker and the admitted radicals seem just as hesitant to admit they are now working with Big Business and Chambers of Commerce to advance their vision of a Just Future.
Yet we know that is already going on in the required local and state WIOA boards. It sounds just like the Eurocommunists who were “prepared to respect those with procapitalist attitudes, including capitalists themselves, insofar as they were sincerely prepared to engage in joint democracy-enhancing projects.” Isn’t that arresting to read as we continue to stumble across these clear collaborations and common visions among public policy think tanks and politicians that supposedly have nothing in common. Governments at all levels are in charge of us with the law as the enforcer of the vision in a world where suddenly “a Deweyan public comprising adherents of both egalitarian and neoliberal philosophies is possible, provided that neither camp is hypocritical in its professed commitment to solving common macro problems.”
No wonder Atlas member employees suddenly seem so fond of citing Justice Brandeis that “it is one of the happy incidents of the federal system that a single courageous state may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory; and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country.” If the citizens consent. That must be why the University of Texas-Austin is working with Stanford on the national Growth Mindset study and doing such a loud and explicit declaration of experimenting on students to change their conscious and unconscious mental models. All consensual. Not.
Reverence for the Rule of Law and Education for Democracy are just the thing in a nation where a Republican Governor calls for a Constitutional Convention with a paper that tells us again that “It is wise, therefore, in every government, and especially in a republic, to provide means for altering, and improving the fabric of government, as time and experience, or the new phases of human affairs, may render proper, to promote the happiness and safety of the people.” That’s the view of Law from the Continent where as Aldous Huxley noted, rights are taken, but never given.
That’s the world of the Governed, the serf, and the subject, which is indisputedly where both WIOA and ESSA and a world where the White House has a Behavioral and Social Sciences Team working to change the nature of citizens at the levels of their minds and personalities. I just was not expecting the State of Texas to play such a prominent role in launching this new view of education and what it will now mean to be an American in the future.
Remember with Dewey’s methods comes the totality of his underlying vision. Suddenly the title’s reference to Collectivism is perfectly on point.
Can Bicameralism and Proper Presentment now bind individuals to everything 21st Century state and local governments choose to impose?
No wonder there is such a consistent push to teach through ideas, concepts, and themes now instead of a body of facts. Facts are a useful tool of the individual, but inappropriate without permission for the ‘Governed.’