SOFT FICHTEANISM – ii. Universal Kindergarten
CAPTAIN: They’re children, Colonel. They’re just like children.
COLONEL: The majority of them are adults.
CAPTAIN: Chronologically, yes. They range in age from six months to sixty years. But psychologically and socially they’re children. Colonel Sloane, I’ve kept these people alive and together all these years, and when we get back to Earth, I will simply have to continue the process.
COLONEL: Have you told them this?
CAPTAIN: There’s no need to tell them—they know it already.[i]
Rod Serling, The Twilight Zone
I have seen some try to absolve Dewey of responsibility for his shameless gushing on behalf of Stalin by claiming that the educational institutions Dewey and his fellow visiting educators were shown were not real Soviet schools, but an academic Potemkin village. In other words, the claim is that Dewey was not the purveyor, but rather the victim, of these lies. There are two obvious problems, however, with this attempt to expunge from Dewey’s record his performance as The New Republic’s philosophical Walter Duranty.
First, as we have seen, he is not merely praising the schools he visited, but rather the entire Bolshevik revolution, and he is praising it specifically for ending private property, forcibly reducing religious activity, and using propaganda to rally a society against its own history. Unless one wishes to claim that Stalin was in fact a classical liberal, a defender of property rights, and a protector of religious freedom, it is difficult to see what part of Dewey’s factual presentation is untrue to the reality of Soviet Russia, and therefore evidence of his having been duped. On the contrary, the only elements of his account of Soviet society in general that ring false are his own enthusiastic defenses of the righteousness of all these oppressive acts, his tiptoeing around the bodies of the undeniable victims, and his casual pooh-poohing of all “confused” Western criticism; but those elements comprise Dewey’s (favorable) personal assessment of communist oppression, and can hardly be attributed to his having been misled, unless we assume he went to Russia as the dumbest man alive.
Secondly, as for the schools themselves, he is overtly praising them as instantiations of his own methods. Thus, from the point of view of understanding the political implications of Dewey’s theory of education, it matters not at all whether the Soviets really tried to implement Deweyism as faithfully as he seemed to believe. What matters is what Dewey himself thinks an education system ought to be. His praise of the Soviet schools as he describes them, whether they were authentic or Potemkin, clearly reveals Dewey’s own hopes, preferences, and educational principles, which may be summarized as follows:
(i) Public schooling should be universal and compulsory, and teachers must see themselves as agents of state conformity.
(ii) The primary function of school is to prepare the child’s mind for life in a socialist collective.
(iii) The school must root out feelings of self-interest, or any private inclinations that draw the individual away from his role as a submissive facet of the collective.
(iv) The parents’ role in child-rearing must be subverted and counteracted until it has been reduced to an extension of the state indoctrination program.
(v) As the main aim of the educational apparatus is moral and psychological uniformity, and as the regulator and intended beneficiary of this aim is the state itself, education and propaganda become effectively interchangeable terms. (This is the necessary effect of collapsing wisdom into power, teaching into government, as we saw in the previous chapter.)
As is amply demonstrated throughout his apology for Stalinism, Dewey presents a special problem of interpretation not usually associated with an important philosopher, namely that he is palpably dishonest—not ironic in the Socratic sense, nor conveniently myopic in the Marxian sense, but simply given to misrepresentation and disingenuousness in the service of his political goals. This should not be particularly surprising, in light of his fondness for propaganda, but it means that in assessing his ideas we are continually faced with the double task of finding his full meaning, which he has deliberately fudged, and only then addressing the content of the ideas themselves.
Allow me to set the stage for the broad analysis of Dewey’s education theory which is to follow by quoting a classic example of his style, in which he implicitly seeks to differentiate his goals from those of a tyrant, by directly tackling the issue of despotic vs. democratic education. In 1939, Dewey was elected president of the League for Industrial Democracy, a socialist advocacy organization he had helped to found in 1905. The 1960s leftist radical group Students for a Democratic Society, from which arose the Weatherman terrorists, was itself an outgrowth of the student wing of the LID, alternately known as the John Dewey Discussion Club.[ii]
In 1940, he delivered an “Address of Welcome” to the League,[iii] in which, having asserted the necessity of conjoining politics and education in an “industrial democracy” (i.e., a socialist state), he then took a moment to qualify this assertion.
Indeed, even totalitarian states differ from previous despotic states in history because they have learned that, under the conditions that exist today, even dictatorships must have a popular support which only some kind of education can furnish. The noble distinction of a democratic society lies in the kind of unity it establishes between education and politics. It is for the people to instruct their officials, not for a few officials to regulate the sentiments and ideas of the rest of the people; the final criterion and test of what is done by our legislative bodies…is what effect their actions have upon the ideas and emotions of the citizens of the country.[iv]
So what distinguishes totalitarianism from democracy, with regard to the nexus between politics and education, is that in totalitarianism the regime uses education to “regulate the sentiments and ideas” of the population, whereas in democracy, the people “instruct their officials” based on their own “ideas and emotions.” Having just examined the terms of Dewey’s praise of Soviet education, particularly with respect to its careful monitoring and management of the mental life of the child, you are no doubt asking yourself the obvious question: How can Dewey argue that in his “industrial democracy” the ideas and emotions of the people control the government, when he believes that the government of such a democracy must educate the people to think and feel in ways supportive of the regime? In other words, isn’t his contrast between the politics-education relationship in totalitarianism on the one hand, and in his notion of democracy on the other, a distinction without a difference? Is he not himself proposing that citizens be raised from early childhood in progressive government schools, trained out of any inclinations unfriendly to “industrial democracy,” and only then set free to “instruct their officials”—in accordance with the ideas and emotions they have learned from the state?
The short answer to those questions is yes. But to understand why Dewey thinks he can get away with such sophistry, and what, in concrete terms, he and his devotees are trying to get away with, we must inquire more deeply into his philosophy of education. For if you really want to understand the heart of modern public schooling, in all its variations; if you want to know why our civilization is deteriorating in the particular way it is; and if you want a clear view at last of that elusive, nebulous web connecting Germany’s early nineteenth century authoritarian idealism to today’s global, trance-like march through the collective enslavement of soft despotism, you need only light a torch, descend the crumbling stairs into hell’s library, and crack open the dusty tomes of John Dewey’s Collected Works, the twentieth century’s greatest treasure trove of democratic tyranny.
Let us begin our journey with Dewey’s address to the National Council of Education in 1902, at the height of his academic ascent, during the initial period of developing the University of Chicago Laboratory School. I choose this work as a springboard into the murky depths of Dewey’s philosophy partly because it is useful to hear how a known dissembler addresses an audience he perceives as likeminded and relatively exclusive. The speech, subsequently published under the title “The School as Social Centre,”[v] offers an excellent summary of Dewey’s conception of the meaning and purpose of public education, and, given its vintage, is indicative of the kind of thinking and sensibility that led John D. Rockefeller himself, and later his General Education Board, to lend support to Dewey’s research project and principles.[vi]
As the title of his address suggests, Dewey’s concern is to promote the idea of public school as more than a locus of learning, in the sense of encouraging intellectual growth, or even of moral education, in the sense of instilling good citizenship. In fact he is insistent that both of these functions are mere antiquated remnants of the modern school’s primordial past, and no longer of primary importance to the grander, more comprehensive sense of education he foresees. He conceives of school more as an idea than as an institution. The notion of “school as social centre” is therefore to be understood quite broadly. School should become the living hub or essence of the society as a whole, the nerve center through which all ideas and perceptions (including self-perceptions) are to be disseminated to the citizens. This applies first to the indoctrination of the young, of course. (And Dewey subscribed to the latest trend in developmental psychology at the time, which was the introduction of the convenient childhood-extending category, adolescence; he contended that this phase continues through approximately age twenty-four, thus providing the rationale for education methods aimed at prolonging dependence and emotional immaturity until they become hardened habits of the soul.) But the process of school socialization does not end with the onset of adulthood. For a classic of progressive paternalism, consider Dewey’s explanation of the need for this social center throughout life. Addressing the place of the worker in society, he relies heavily on a neo-Marxist conception of alienation in the industrial age to ground his outline of the function of school in adult life:
It must provide at least part of that training which is necessary to keep the individual properly adjusted to a rapidly changing environment. It must interpret to him the intellectual and social meaning of the work in which he is engaged: that is, must reveal its relations to the life and work of the world. It must make up to him in part for the decay of dogmatic and fixed methods of social discipline. It must supply him compensation for the loss of reverence and the influence of authority. And, finally, it must provide means for bringing people and their ideas and beliefs together, in such ways as will lessen friction and instability, and introduce deeper sympathy and wider understanding.[vii] (Emphasis added.)
To paraphrase: A normal citizen cannot be expected to understand why he is alive. Having been “freed from the load of subjection to the past” under the newly developing proto-socialist regime, the lack of religious dogma and of authority deriving from now defunct traditions will leave him at quite a loss to grasp who or what he is. He will therefore desperately need the “social centre” to take his hand and explain his life’s purpose to him, and how what he is doing is useful to the collective. This unifying function is not only, or even primarily, beneficial to the lowly workers themselves; it is also indispensible to the state, which must be vigilant in anticipating sources of dissent or dissatisfaction, and take active steps to discourage “ideas and beliefs” which are not conducive to “stability,” or which cause “friction.” In short, school must prevent the growth of a frustrated underclass “clinging to their Bibles and their guns,” as President Obama described a certain kind of conservative.[viii]
Recall Dewey’s summary of the aesthetic extension of the traditional notion of education under communism: “propaganda is education and education is propaganda.” Here we see how the notion fits within Dewey’s own theory of education. Remembering that school, in Dewey’s account of the proper education system, means specifically and exclusively public school, one immediately sees that by defining school as a lifelong “social centre,” he is really making the case for continual government manipulation of the population and its sentiments. And remembering that proper education for Dewey extends to any method of disseminating ideas or reinforcing attitudes with a view to social cohesion and collective purpose, we may infer that what he is proposing here is to reconceive of government itself as the permanent and sole source of all public perceptions, including moral perceptions.
If this seems far-fetched or unduly Orwellian, consider, at a matter-of-fact level, what compulsory public schooling necessarily means within the context of childhood education. To extend this reality to encompass the community as a whole, and throughout the course of life, is not only quite conceivable, but follows logically from the very idea of compulsory progressive education. If one accepts the premise that the state should be the single ultimate guide of intellectual and character development for an entire population, what would compel one to think this process ought to be discontinued once the subject has completed “adolescence”? Thus, when Dewey declares that the “social centre”—his euphemism for the state qua source of the society’s “aesthetic” self-understanding—must “make up for the decay of dogmatic and fixed methods of social discipline,” and “supply compensation” for the “loss of reverence and the influence of [obsolete, non-governmental] authority,” he means nothing less than that the state itself must take the place formerly occupied by gods, traditional moral codes, and notions of family loyalty and continuity. (If you are convinced he could not mean anything so, shall we say, German, then you are welcome to cling to a more comforting interpretation.)
The question that naturally arises here—or would, had civilization not been living under the reign of the Deweyesque social center for so many decades—is whence derives the state’s authority to assume such an all-encompassing role in men’s lives in the first place? As you will recall, it was here that Fichte ran up against the limits of his reasoning, and was left to rely on the sheer force of his personality, in effect declaring that if only we could see what he could see, we would simply understand the necessity of ceding all authority over child-rearing, social hierarchy, and moral direction to the state. But Fichte had a major practical advantage over Dewey, namely an audience in the throes of despair and self-doubt, and craving a savior with answers for an hour of need. It is my contention that the main difference between Fichte’s proposals and Dewey’s is to be found not in basic political temperament or intentions—progressive collectivism and a socialist society ruled by an authoritarian elite—but simply in this, that Dewey was forced by his surrounding politico-economic conditions to subvert in the areas where Fichte had led, to distort where Fichte had shaped, and to insinuate where Fichte had declared.
Case in point: Let us consider Dewey’s account of the special circumstances that, he claims, make the “school as social centre” so necessary. For it is here that we arrive at the real essence of the intellectual shell game that is Dewey’s philosophy of education.
Epictetus advises us that we must look to what a man regards as being to his advantage, if we would find the man’s piety. The opposite advice, I suspect, also holds good. Pious reverence—for a person, a thing, or an idea—is similarly a sign indicating where a man locates his advantage. Thus in reading the map of John Dewey’s heart, we must trace the lines drawn in the language of the “social.” For Dewey, the word “social” is no ordinary adjective. It is in constant and varied use. It appears gratuitously, incessantly. It appears with the inelegant and tiresome frequency of overused slang. It is inserted so often, in so many contexts, that its normal descriptive function disappears in a haze of imprecise meaning. And that very fact, one finally realizes, is part of the reason for its frequent appearance. Dewey generally eschews the word “political,” preferring the allusive power of the imprecise “social.” One would do well to keep that in mind while reading Dewey, and to test the sense of many of his vaguely benign-sounding recommendations by substituting “political” wherever he uses “social.” For Dewey’s project is precisely to reduce the social to the political, or rather society to the state.
But there is more to it than that. One of the classic methods of sophistry (literally among the tools of the ancient sophist’s trade) is equivocation. Use a word often enough, and in a calculated mix of straightforward and vague senses, and eventually the listener becomes accustomed to accepting it as a kind of loose placeholder in the argument. As a result, when you shift the word into a position to carry a sense or level of meaning never openly agreed upon, he will accede to your unstated connotations as though they are almost self-evident, imagining you are still using the keyword in one of its previously accepted senses.
Thus it is that Dewey begins his argument for the school as social center by placing his proposal in a seemingly uncontroversial historical context. He defines his topic as an attempt to determine “what to do in order to make the schoolhouse a centre of full and adequate social service, to bring it completely into the current of social life,” which, on the basis of what we have seen, may be restated as “how to infuse the government’s indoctrination apparatus into all those phases and facets of men’s lives to which government had not hitherto had access.” He then begins his “brief historic retrospect” on the evolution of education with the following assertion:
The function of education, since anything which might pass by that name was found among savage tribes, has been social. The particular organ or structure, however, through which this aim was subserved, and the nature of its adjustment to other social institutions, has varied according to the peculiar condition of the given time.[ix]
“The function of education…has been social.” This assertion serves as the basis for a synoptic interpretation of the history of education. But what exactly does it mean? It is obvious that any process of education involving the passing of knowledge from one person to another is social by definition, and also that one function (though not, as Dewey deceptively phrases it, the function) of the most common examples of education is social in the sense of preparing the learner to live more successfully among other people. The next sentence, however, implies that he is talking about a universal evolutionary development, which would not follow from the opening assertion unless by “social” he meant something much more technical and contentious than merely “related to society.” So is the opening assertion a banal truism (education is related to society), or a theoretical assertion requiring proof (education is an act of society taken as a universal progressive entity)? Dewey clearly wishes to achieve the benefits of the latter by means of the psychological effect of the former. That is, hoping to lay out an interpretation of the history of education that will support his radical intentions, but that would appear completely specious were he to leave it without a grounding principle, Dewey uses the fluid keyword “social” to express his principle in a manner that seems uncontroversial. This is textbook equivocation, and he uses it to lead us unchallenged through his loaded historical survey, the core of which is as follows:
At the outset there was no school as a separate institution. The educative processes were carried on in the ordinary play of family and community life. As the ends to be reached by education became more numerous and remote, and the means employed more specialized, it was necessary, however, for society to develop a distinct institution. Only in this way could the special needs be adequately attended to. In this way developed the schools carried on by great philosophical organizations of antiquity—the Platonic, Stoic, Epicurean, etc.—then came schools as a phase of the work of the church. Finally, with the increasing separation of church and state, the latter asserted itself as the proper founder and supporter of educational institutions; and the modern type of public, or at least quasi-public, school developed.… [My] reason for referring to this claiming by the state of the education function is to indicate that it was in continuance of the policy of specialization or division of labor.[x]
Here we have a great example of the harmful fallout of German idealism, and of the dangers of playing the neo-Hegelian game of dialectical history. Beginning with a desired result—generally, oneself idealized as the end of history—and a conveniently conceived grand design that seems most plausibly to render the desired result as inevitable and necessary, rather than contingent and changeable, one then cherry-picks and squeezes historical events until they conform to the design, thereby seeming to prove what in fact no argument could disprove, namely the present. In this case, following the Marxist materialist model of historical dialectic, Dewey attempts to derive the absolute idea of “school as social centre” (i.e., himself) from the principle of the division of labor.
He claims that the initial step from education as part of “family and community life” to the development of schools as distinct institutions resulted from new, “remote” educational ends, and correspondingly “specialized” means. We might ask here, “Whose ends, and whose means?” After all, specialization presupposes specialists, men who have developed a new area or method of inquiry in response to a need arising from prevailing “social” conditions, whether these be general conditions of the community at large or peculiar conditions within an isolated sub-community. But these are precisely the questions Dewey wishes to avoid, since to contemplate them would bring clearly before the mind certain premises of his own argument that he would prefer to leave hidden. He therefore carefully frames his history so as to obscure these questions and the considerations they bring to light.
Thus, in introducing the initial growth of schools set apart from the ordinary life of family and community, Dewey chooses to keep his account and his phraseology strictly universal and generic: “it was necessary for society to develop a distinct institution.” This wording casts the development of earlier educational methods and institutions as a societal undertaking, an act of History, rather than what it obviously really was, namely the particular acts of particular men advancing their own interests in response to their own concerns. The reason for this convenient evasion of practical reality is two-fold.
First, Dewey is trying to portray the move toward government schools as a continuation and perfection of the thrust of human evolution, rather than a corruption and bastardization of the ideals and endeavors of all the individual thinkers and educators of the past. By falsely portraying each “stage” in education’s alleged evolution as answering to the will of society as a whole, rather than to the will of the actual founders of schools per se, he creates an intellectual plane of plausibility for his claim that the takeover of education by the state is only a completion of this evolutionary process, rather than what it actually was and is: the forced curtailment of the kind of varied intellectual uprisings against established social institutions that led to phenomena such as the Platonic, Stoic, and Epicurean schools, and that would undoubtedly lead to countless beneficial experiments in education today, were the machinery of state compulsion not standing in the way. In other words, to the extent that there really is a dialectical impulse in the development of thought, monopolistic government control over the dissemination of ideas effectively ends it, not in the sense of completing it, but rather of killing it. This is the true meaning of Dewey’s emphasis on the need for the “social centre” to propagandize against dissent, of Fichte’s emphasis on the importance of preventing anyone from thinking at all without a state-trained overseer until his complete absorption of progressive idealism is certain, and of Rockefeller’s insistence that public schooling should be designed to prevent the development of independent and original thinkers.
The principle of specialization or division of labor need not, as Dewey presupposes, tend toward increasingly monolithic and centralized controls. On the contrary, this principle is precisely an impetus to break away from established limits, norms, and conceptions of life’s possibilities, as is demonstrated with exceptional clarity by precisely the examples of ancient schools that Dewey mentions.
Secondly, emphasizing the individual men and private intentions associated with the earliest schools, or even with “the church,” would draw attention to something Dewey does not wish us to attend to, namely the fact that every educational endeavor or institution—formal or informal, ancient or modern—is designed by its creators to serve the ends they desire. By confining his description of the process to the universal level, Dewey can describe each stage generically as representing what “society” needed at any given time, thereby avoiding the key implication of the shift to state-controlled education, namely that this, unlike all previous educational schemes, was schooling undertaken in the state’s interest, rather than in the interests of non-governmental entities. The stealthy avoidance of this implication is what allows him to declare without missing a beat that “with the increasing separation of church and state, the latter asserted itself as the proper founder and supporter of educational institutions.”
“The latter asserted itself.” As we have already seen in his hagiography to Soviet communism, Dewey has a tremendous talent for understatement in the service of oppression. From his progressive authoritarian perspective, there is no difference in principle between saying “Plato asserted himself as the founder of a school in Athens” and saying “The state asserted itself as the controller of all schools everywhere.” And notice his cute qualifier, “proper.” Education was the provenance of home and community. Then it was undertaken by specialized schools, and eventually by the church. But only with the advent of state-controlled schooling does History pass a judgment: Government is the “proper founder” of schools. Why is it proper? It is proper because the state “asserted itself” and “claimed” education “in continuance of the policy of specialization or division of labor.”
So the principle of specialization leads to schools controlled, not by those who actually develop the areas of specialized knowledge (as in his ancient Greek examples or the case of church doctrine), but by the state. And the principle of the division of labor naturally tends toward state oversight and control of every aspect of life and the economy. If there seems to be a missing step in Dewey’s reasoning here, perhaps it is provided by his casually proffered explanation of what he means by “the state”: “the organization of the resources of community life through governmental machinery of legislation and administration.”[xi] Let that definition sink in for a moment, ponder the breadth of the phrase “the resources of community life,” and it becomes quite obvious how the historical evolution of the division of labor necessarily results in Dewey’s conception of a perfect society: a totalitarian “democracy” in which universal indoctrination and ubiquitous propaganda produce the kind of compliance and submission which all but eliminates the need for those indelicate excesses of state brutality—secret police, midnight confiscations and arrests, intermittent pogroms—that, as he later observed in the case of Stalinism, can give “the universal good of universal humanity” a bad name. If you can wrap your mind around this kind of reasoning, then you will understand why the destruction of churches under Stalin did not bother Dewey in the least. He believes an analogous process is essential to the historical development of the modern public school. The separation of church and state leads to the takeover of education by the state, which in turn weakens the influence of “dogma” and “authority,” meaning of religion and old wisdom. The state then fills the spiritual gap left by the weakened church with propaganda where men once had faith and moral precepts.
Dewey, like his ideological brother Antonio Gramsci, teaches that the key to a lasting, modern, and progressive authoritarianism is education, which means state-controlled schooling conducted in an artificial environment designed to undo every natural inclination toward individual self-discovery and freedom. For practical purposes, the school must become the state in the hearts of its students/subjects. Dewey’s thinking is extremely clear-eyed on this issue. The measure of his method’s success is found in the inability of the overwhelming majority of today’s public school graduates to see the issue as clearly as Dewey, our spiritual schoolmaster, saw it.
So much rides on his case for the historical inevitability of state-controlled schooling that one cannot help being surprised how little he offers to support this development. At best, his historical dialectic has made a case for the institution of schools of some sort to teach specialized knowledge which people would not be able to learn from family and community. It is noteworthy that the examples of such specialized schools that he gives, from ancient times, were not schools for children; these philosophical schools would have presumed their students had received a typical family-directed education before they arrived, just as our early modern universities would have presumed of theirs. Perhaps Dewey chose these less than helpful examples because the only other straightforward model of Greek schooling in the strict sense that he knew was that of Sparta, where child schooling was already universal, compulsory, and “specialized” in precisely the sense Dewey prefers, namely that it was designed to inculcate blind devotion to the state and to dull independent thought. Drawing attention to Sparta would undermine his pretense at a theory of historical evolution on more than one level, so he ignores it.
[i] Rod Serling, excerpt from “On Thursday We Leave for Home,” The Twilight Zone, broadcast May 2, 1963.
[ii] “As the decade of the sixties began, the Student League for Industrial Democracy—SLID, as it was known—gave no sign that it would grow into the most important student organization into the country’s history [i.e., SDS].… It had, at best, a few hundred members, most of whom were once-a-year activists and many of whom were well past their undergraduate years. It had only three chapters—at Columbia and Yale, where both were known as the ‘John Dewey Discussion Club,’ and at Michigan….” From Kirkpatrick Sale, SDS: The Rise and Development of the Students for a Democratic Society (Vintage Books, 1973), 7.
[iii] Dewey, “Address of Welcome to the League for Industrial Democracy,” (1940), in Later Works vol. 14, 262-265.
[iv] Address of Welcome, 262-263.
[v] John Dewey, “The School as Social Centre,” in The Elementary School Teacher, vol.III No. 2 ( 1902), 73-76, hereafter SSC.
[vi] Rockefeller, along with the progressive American Baptist Education Society, founded The University of Chicago in 1890. His main Baptist Society partner in this founding, Frederick T. Gates, later became Rockefeller’s right hand man in the G.E.B. See “Frederick T. Gates,” at 100 Years: The Rockefeller Foundation (accessed April 20, 2016), http://rockefeller100.org/biography/show/frederick-t—gates. In 1894, John Dewey was chosen as head of Chicago’s department of philosophy, psychology, and pedagogy, and soon opened the original Laboratory School (with Rockefeller start-up funding) in 1896. (Michael Knoll, “John Dewey as administrator: the inglorious end of the Laboratory School in Chicago,” Journal of Curriculum Studies [Published online August 8, 2014], http://www.academia.edu/14351044/John_Dewey_as_administrator_the_inglorious_end_of_the_Laboratory_School_in_Chicago_2014_.) In fact, the Rockefeller family’s financial and ideological alliance with Deweyism has continued through the generations. Cf. Sam Blumenfeld, “Dyslexia and the Rockefellers,” in The New American (February 28, 2012), http://www.thenewamerican.com/reviews/opinion/item/10929-dyslexia-and-the-rockefellers. Blumenfeld quotes David Rockefeller, son of John D. Rockefeller, Jr.: “Father was an ardent and generous supporter of John Dewey’s educational methods and school reform efforts.… Teacher’s College of Columbia University operated Lincoln [a progressive laboratory school], with considerable financial assistance in the early years from the General Education Board, as an experimental school designed to put Dewey’s philosophy into practice.”
[vii] SSC, 83.
[viii] Hillary Clinton borrowed Dewey’s concept of friendly socialist re-education in its literal form in 2015, proposing “camps for adults,” where people with political differences would be forced to “work together” in an atmosphere of “fun.” See John Nolte, “Hillary Clinton: ‘We Really Need Camps for Adults,’” Breitbart (March 19, 2015), http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/03/19/hillary-clinton-proposes-we-really-need-camps-for-adults/.
But in fact, while lacking the direct behavior-modification component of literal camps, Dewey’s wish is fulfilled far more satisfactorily and universally by ceding the attitude-adjustment function to a progressive university system and an agenda-compliant mass media.
[ix] SSC, 73-74.
[x] SSC, 74.
[xi] SSC, 74.