Molding the Minds of the Masses Toward Myths as an Effective Means of Manipulating Action for Change

Two posts ago I mentioned I had one more equity event to attend as I listened in person to the blueprints of intended transformation for all metro areas, not even just the US. So December 4, I attended the roll-out of the Harvard Equality of Opportunity Project at a  meeting of the Atlanta regional Housing Authority. Among those special guests recognized by name at the event were the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, the group that had just put out that Metro Atlanta Equity Atlas I have written about, and the head of the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education. Apparently I am not the only one who gets that all these entities and terms are linked in a common transformative vision of the future.

As I have been attending all these events or reading mentioned books like White Flight, it has been hard for me not to notice the extent to which beliefs in things that are not so, or which did not happen in the manner described, are being presented as fact. One of the points made at the Wednesday event by representatives of an entity, Georgia StandUp, with ties to ACORN, complained of the still present “plantation mentality.” That this was the reason it was hard in metro Atlanta to move from the bottom percentage of income earners to the top 20%.

Now I can be a pretty serious nerd, but we are not going to have that kind of policy discussion. I was struck at several of these events, however, about the myths about money and power, and who has it and how they got it, that are taken for granted by speakers or audience members. It is as if everyone believes that only predators prevail, and they now want governments to step in so various groups can supposedly take their turn being a predator and dictating who can do what, and where, and with whom. Treating society and the economy and people like we actually are a plantation in need of new owners and overseers.

I keep leaving sad and climbing in my car and thinking we are in great trouble if so many with political power and the ability to coerce taxpayers have so few accurate perceptions about how the world worked to create mass prosperity. As Daniel Hannan from the last post noted:

“In almost every period of human history, people’s circumstances were fixed at birth…The miracles of the past three and a half centuries–the unprecedented improvements in democracy, in longevity, in freedom, in literacy, in calorie intake, in infant survival rates, in height, in equality of opportunity–came about largely because of the individualist market system developed in the Anglosphere.

All these miracles followed from the recognition of people as free individuals, equal before the law, and able to make agreements one with another for mutual benefit.”

And we are now using education reforms like those new civic values and regional planning and new visions of reforming Workforce Development and Human Capital Policies to throw it all away. We have lots of people in power who clearly believe the myths of still dominant racism they were taught to foster a sense of grievance that cannot be extinguished until capitalism goes. With no idea of how much they have been relying on its fruits.

The post title comes from a 1937 quote from Zalmen Slesinger in his book Education and the Class Struggle where he wrote about the desire to use the schools to shift society away from capitalism. Slesinger agreed with Earl Browder, then the head of CPUSA, who had said “The school system must itself be revolutionized before it can become an instrument of revolution–or of any serious social change.” Which is precisely why we are now seeing district conversion charters and limitations on elected local school boards and accreditation agencies assuming classroom policy oversight. Their leaders know what Browder meant even if we do not. As Slesinger wrote:

“[These] molders of the minds of the masses must assume the role of the propagandist, the political strategist, using whatever techniques may be effective in convincing and in converting the minds of the masses as speedily and as effectively as possible. Failure to do so is to expose the masses to the destructive demagogy of the ruling class.”

These quotes were in a Chapter called “A Fascist and Communist view of the function of the American school” in a book by Professor Clarence J. Karier. I noticed the strong resemblance between what was described there and what the actual Common Core implementation is looking like and the rhetoric being used. As Karier noted when he wrote the book in 1967: “The end clearly justifies the means for each group. If myth satisfies the irrational need of the masses in a mass society and if it serves as an efficient vehicle of manipulating the people, then both would use it for their own purposes.” And that’s still the case even if those who hold such a view of education run under the banner of a mainstream political party, or work in aid of a regional planning authority or taxing district. Lots of ways to effect these same ends while masquerading as a moderate or even a conservative. At least the ACORN affiliates are not masking what they pursue.

One more time with Karier as he noted that “[b]oth totalitarian views conceive of education as a weapon of indoctrination to be wielded by the power elite.” That’s the natural outgrowth of Statism through the ages and suddenly everyone with ambition or greed or a sense of grievance is lobbying to become a member of the planning and predatory power elite. Which is why the myths being created by Harvard history professor Lisa McGirr in her 2001 Suburban Warriors: The Origins of the New American Right are so dangerously effective in creating mass beliefs that it is the Right that is selfish and irrational. Borderline paranoids and delusionals who saw communist threats where none really existed and who held an erroneous “mythic vision of the nation’s past.”

McGirr used Orange County, California as the “lens” for examining the Conservative movement, and the legitimacy of the suburban vision, and ultimately the President they helped first promote as a Governor, Ronald Reagan. In her chapter on “The Conservative Worldview” McGirr complained of hostility “toward liberal ‘equalitarianism’ and conservatives’ skepticism about democracy. She illustrated that ‘radicalism’ and ‘right-wing rhetoric’ by pointing out that conservatives noted “marked distinctions between a republic and a democracy and emphasized that the United States had been founded as a republic.” Such an outrage to actually be familiar with formative documents like The Federalist Papers one can assume will remain unassigned in McGirr’s courses. She also complained about libertarians who “express deep dismay with the voting process, seeing it as a means for the majority to coerce the minority.” Which is kind of funny given how often I read now of the intention to force the minority to submit to the vision of the common good developed by the voting majority.

McGirr also consistently pointed out the irrational, apocalyptic “fear of communism” with “elements of conspiracy theory.” Unfortunately for her, I have an increasingly large collection of people operating in California and elsewhere in the US, especially the Ivies, in the time she is writing about who essentially bragged about what they were up to and who they were actively coordinating with. There may have been loony conspiracy theorists in Orange County, but there was also a great deal of transformative activity being pursued.

McGirr’s Harvard undergrads may believe that such fears were nuts and thus that Conservatives are too, but it is sloppy as factual history. Since McGirr regularly mentioned the work of Harvard sociologist Daniel Bell and what he wrote in his 1963 book The Radical Right, I do not think any of the ‘myths’ about the Right and Orange County and the 1960s legitimacy of anticommunism is an accident. It reads under the now known facts like intentional misdirection.

I guess if you want transformative change the needs for plausible myths abounds. Unfortunately again for Professor McGirr I have read and written about Boulding’s 1962 The Great Transition and Bell’s Commission on the Year 2000 report and his view of The Post-Industrial Society and also the World Order Models Project. None of these leave any doubt about the sought little c vision of world federalism and redistribution being sought. Orange Countians, in other words, had real reasons to be paranoid. But today’s students are being taught it is all myths and people creating a “cast of villains” in order to preserve their own “way of life and a set of power relations in American society” that had been beneficial to them.

My favorite myth that McGirr complains of is “the firm belief in the wastefulness of government.” Only an idealogue with a political view of the use of history would dispute the accuracy of that belief. But then again, McGirr admitted she used the term ‘ideology’ as defined by Eric Foner [an admitted radical historian at Columbia where she got her PhD],   “who calls it ‘the system of beliefs, values, fears, prejudices, reflexes and commitments–in sum, the social consciousness–of a social group, be it a class, a party, or a section.”

Fascinating that the used definition of ideology is precisely what education, and the myths it is now trying to consciously cultivate, are targeting. In preschool, K-12, college, AND grad school.

With all these myths abounding we can appreciate why actual facts and modelling reality are out. And emotional imagination and online gaming is in.

16 thoughts on “Molding the Minds of the Masses Toward Myths as an Effective Means of Manipulating Action for Change

  1. I was thinking about this post while surfing the web today. I came across this article by a UK writer.

    While not overly interested in reading a review about a British play, I was caught by some of the references. Here’s British play that, for an unknown reason, appears to project modern teaching techniques back into the 1980s. The hero is using the “intuit, experience, and feel” method of teaching. The antagonist is sort of using “classic” teaching methods, but in a cynical manner. The play, “The History Boys”, is apparently one of the more popular plays in London.

    Your post linked here in a couple of ways. One was the method of changing historical facts and the other was the concept of conspiracy theories. Here’s a popular play that puts modern morals and teaching methods 30 years into the past. To the British reviewer, the play doesn’t make sense, but it’s popular. It struck me that if you were trying to make todays teaching methods seem acceptable, you’d make people think they’d been used forever and that those old “classical” teaching methods were hilariously outdated. Of course, if you were trying for something along those lines, it would have to be sort of a conspiracy.

    Probably nothing there, but it was interesting to see that the UK is suffering under the same dictates from their educators.

    • Mike,

      The UK is ahead of us in the extent of the infiltration. And in higher ed, only the Scandinavian countries are deemed further along.

      It makes me so sad and mostly my kids are beyond the point where bad curriculum can affect them other than being boring. I just keep coming back to “if you don’t get it at home, you will not get it at all.” Plus I also know that people throw out “plantation mentality” and “equality” when they are told kids are not learning knowledge or being able to read well and there is no outrage or shift. We are on this trajectory of using the schools for social change, and the people pushing so hard think the taxpayers will keep funding them whatever the fallout of their policies.

      I enjoy Delingpole. Thanks so much for the link.


  2. The Left says that those who oppose Agenda 21 and Common Core engage in conspiracy theories—that we’re crazy. Actually, they are the crazy ones. They are the people who plot openly about how to transform America and have the gall to try an pass off their “theories” as truth. You have to be crazy to think up these ideas and try to implement policies based on their twisted doctrines. Um…I think they don’t have any clothes on.

    • Sara,

      That’s one reason I mentioned the people who were called out by name as being at the meeting. They are the same people and groups doing the Atlas and the regional competitiveness strategy that taxpayers are not alerted to and the school district coordination that seems to leave school boards out of the loop.

      I downloaded the Boston regional Equity Plan this morning and it talks about the federal involvement.

      McGirr wanted people to believe that Orange County conservatives had no reason to be concerned when I have books mentioning World Federalists here and who is doing what there.

      As I mentioned in the book when you have political power and tax money and you want something that would be politically unpopular you get active stealth coordination among groups and people. And when people say this is what we are doing and why there is not theorizing going on when we report on it.

      No theorizing going on when we report on this

      or this

    • That UCLA Civil Rights Project is Gary Orfield’s work with an Ella Baker Center. The Charter School concept was created by the Left, in particular the work of Ray Budde. I have his paper making the intended anti-academic nature and push to essentially enshrine Transformational Outcomes Based education via poorly understood contract.

      I also know the history of the segregation academies. There may be people who want charter schools and do not know the history and why Minnesota originally began pushing them and who do not have a copy of Al Shanker’s speech in 1988 before the National Press Club advocating the concept who think they can be used to exclude and who are racist as individuals but that is simply not the history. There are places where the concept was thankfully hijacked to become islands of genuine knowledge, but even those, I hear, are coming under increasing pressure to shift to the Whole Child, “experienced and inexperienced learners in a community of social discourse,” computer as the emphasis programs.

      That article is just another opportunity to keep pushing a sense of grievance and outrage surrounding public schools. When so many of their problems were deliberate or at best careless indifference and a part of previous ed reforms.

      Thanks LL.

      • Check out charter schools in Colorado before you tar them all with the same brush. The charter schools I helped to found or worked with are filled with minority kids who regularly score in the 90s because of good, content-rich teaching. A majority of our students don’t look like WASPs — and yet, we don’t lower the bar. They regularly rise to meet the challenge. If she had been lucky enough to be In one of our schools, Rachel Jeantel would not only have been able to read a letter in cursive, she would have been able to write one. Starting in kindergarten. Of course there are charter schools around that I wouldn’t send a dog to. And yes, we are under increasing pressure to shift to Whole Child garbage. Just like everybody else. Many charter schools in Colorado have banded together to push back against Common Core. Check out Michelle Malkin on the subject. She moved her family there to put her kids in one of our schools. It really bothers me that we are lumped in with leftists with an agenda or with racists.

        • Deborah–

          I include your charter schools in the minority that got away from what Ray Budde and other systems thinkers and the US DoED documents intended in the late 80s for charter schools.

          But I also have a powerpoint from the CO state authorities to use accreditation to push the remaining recalcitrant schools toward the desired–change the learner–vision. You are at rifk going forward, but at less risk than if I was not writing about this and raising the facts. That’s what keeps you providing sold academics for as long as possible.

          • Deborah,

            It is coming from CO’s use of RtI & PBIS. Not a huge surprise as the National Center on Learning Disabilities funded by Cisco is in Co. I am going to give you the search as it will let you play around with downloading some of the crucial related materials. “adena miller rti pbis tools for scaling up cde.” It need not be in quotes but I am showing you what I just typed to see if what I had in hard copy was still available. It has a 2-18-11 date. The accreditation mention is on page 3.

            I have multiple files on PBIS, SWPBS, and RtI as Co is modelling for rest of country as means back to Transformational OBE results without using the term. Also work being done with the ASCD’s Whole Child Initiative.

            Plus all this emphasis on Behavioral Dispositions is a merger of the Behavioral and Academic into a single outcome of the Mindset and personality desired.

            Poke around and we can talk. I found the files now.

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