Control: Making Good Citizens
IN this chapter, continuing the discussion of social control, we shall be concerned with the processes of education, indoctrination, and inculcation of right attitudes. We may, then, divide all human institutions into those in which education is purposive, or done with certain purposes pursued by those in charge of the institution, and those institutions in which education is non-purposive and purely, or chiefly, incidental. The school is one institution which most people will readily admit has this purpose and educates with definite purposes. Accordingly, I am, including in this chapter a reprint of an article I contributed to a symposium on
Indoctrination, The Task Before the American School, published in The Social Frontier, A Journal of Educational Criticism and Reconstruction, January, 1935, for permission to reprint which I make acknowledgment to the publishers of that magazine. This article expresses the fascist philosophy with regard to education and indoctrination done by that institution, the school, which every one recognizes to be engaged in purposive education.
Before entering upon a brief discussion of education by the school as one of the important agencies of social control or government, let us run over one or two considerations which link up certain other institutions with the school as educators with social purposes. The church, the press, the theatre, the moving picture, and the radio undoubtedly do more educating than the school, if for no other reason than that they educate people throughout their entire lifetimes. These institutions also educate with definite social purposes. Sometimes these purposes harmonize with the larger purposes of the social plan, and sometimes they certainly do not. In the fascist view of things, all institutional formation of character, mind, social attitudes, and opinions with a social purpose, must harmonize with, and not be antagonistic to, the larger purposes of the national plan. This means that fascism holds that no institution forming people’s minds, characters, and attitudes should have among its purposes or effects the unfitting of people for good citizenship as the State defines good citizenship.
It is obviously impossible to list all the offenses which purposive education, whether by the church, school, or radio, can commit against the national interest. It is only possible, in a brief space, to outline certain guiding principles in reference to purposive education by powerful social institutions. The first consideration in order of logical approach, perhaps, is the one most ignored, or openly denied, by liberalism. It is the consideration that institutions like the church, the radio, or the press, to mention only three examples, do form people’s minds and social attitudes with definite social purposes which are determined by the persons in charge of the institution, or, more particularly, by the persons in charge of the particular unit of the institution in question. No one can work on a farm or in a bakery without getting a good deal of education from the experience, but the social attitudes acquired while undergoing these experiences may vary greatly. Few persons, however, can read the Hearst papers daily, or tune in daily on certain radio programs, or attend weekly certain churches, without having their social attitudes and opinions markedly determined by these experiences. In the cases of a majority of those constantly exposed to one of these institutional educators with a purpose, it may be said that most of their opinions and attitudes will be derived almost entirely from two or three of these.
From the consideration just stated follows a second one, that given units of some of these important institutional educators or opinion-and attitude-formers are largely — at times, wholly — controlled by powerful persons or economic interests for private ends which are not always consistent with public ends. These rich persons who can own a newspaper, buy time over national hook-ups, and command the resources of expensive publicity experts, or these powerful interests which, because of their economic power as advertisers and contributors to persons and institutions, can dictate largely the policies of churches, newspapers, moving pictures, and radio, or of cultural leaders, can and do, through the sheer might of money, use these educational institutions or leaders to make people think and feel as it suits their interests. The facts are matters of such common knowledge, and have been exposed so many times and in so many connections, that it seems superfluous to support the foregoing generalizations with detailed examples. The consideration, then, that people by the million are being made to think, feel, and vote as powerful economic interests desire, through the use of the character-, mind-, and attitude-forming techniques of important institutions, constitutes one of the best refutations of liberal premises and one of the strongest arguments for fascism.
Liberalism talks freedom of the press, the pulpit, the radio and, in fact, all the institutions which educate people and form social attitudes. But liberalism cannot make such freedom a reality in a world of present-day complexities of economic organization and of present-day inequalities of economic power. Fascism does not talk in preposterous terms of a freedom which is non-existent and impossible to maintain, but rather in terms of a social discipline which it is possible for the State to impose in the name of a given ideal of national interest. So far as freedom is concerned (if that term in the abstract and by itself can ever have much meaning) it may be said that the people as a whole have most freedom where they have most opportunities to do what they like, and where they most like to do the things they have opportunities to do. Liberal freedom in practice today means, among other things, freedom for powerful economic interests to manipulate public opinion, and the social attitudes of the masses, to suit selfish private or corporate ends. It cannot be shown that a large measure of freedom for such manipulation gives the people as a whole more freedom than a drastic State discipline of it in the public interest would afford.
Stated somewhat differently, the question really is: Who shall manipulate the opinions, feelings, and attitudes of the masses? — for manipulated they must and will be in a civilization as complex and highly organized as ours. Is it preferable to have mass opinions, feelings, and social attitudes manipulated by powerful private interests for personal or minority group ends, or to have mass opinions guided by a national State in the pursuit of some idealized plan of social well-being and order? In this connection, the case against the manipulation of mass opinions and social attitudes by private or corporate interests pursuing personal or minority group ends, is that these manipulators have no concern with, or responsibility for, public order. They ask freedom to use economic power to manipulate mass opinions and emotions, but decline all responsibility for the social consequences. The State, or those in charge of government, can never act with such irresponsibility, for, after all, it is those in charge of government — not those in charge of counting-houses — who, in a crisis, must deal with the hungry and unemployed mob and must ensure that the trains run and the banks reopen.
Liberal theory may be said to regard the great social institutions through which the characters, minds, and attitudes of the people are formed somewhat as one might have regarded the village well in a 17th century English hamlet. The well was free for every one, who could take from it as much water as he wanted. It was run by no one, and had no social purpose. It was a social institution which was just used by every one as he saw fit, and which was never, as a practical matter, subject to serious misuse or abuse by any one. For one thing, water in England was abundant. For another, people in 17th century England used comparatively little water, and had no reason to misuse the well. Any selfish person who might have thought of establishing a monopoly over the well would have been dealt with adequately by the town constables-if not by a few strong armed villagers.
Up to about the middle of the 19th century the press and the platform, like the village well, were, more or less, institutions’ available for the free and equal use of those competent to use them. When rich men patronized the arts and letters, their demands and impositions were of socially slight significance. Once the monopoly of the State religion was broken sufficiently to allow substantial tolerance of other forms of worship (from about the beginning of the 18th century in England) different social ideas then current competed in a fairly free market and on terms of a considerable degree of equality.
The radical British liberals, utopians, socialists, and idealists of the late 18th and early 19th centuries had practically as much access to the public mind as the extreme conservatives. For the small elite of literate persons to whom such ideas were accessible, there was considerable freedom both in presenting and accepting ideas. Capitalists had not yet begun to use mass propaganda. In England, they controlled Parliament through the rotten boroughs, in which a handful of personal employees or friends of the lord of the manor would elect him or his designate. With the reform of the rotten boroughs in England toward the middle of the 19th century, with the enlargement of the franchise, and with the growth of population of the United States from the time of Andrew Jackson on, the powerful economic interests began to find it necessary to buy political control more and more through the instrumentalities of those institutions now under discussion, namely, those which educate with definite social purposes.
Up to the middle of the 19th century the masses had not acquired enough economic importance or buying power to make it worth while for capitalists to buy up control of the colleges, newspapers, and intellectual leaders as instruments of mass control, business promotion, and property protection. Up to the beginning of the era of nearly universal literacy and suffrage, the consumers of intellectual products were a critical, discriminating, and strongly opinionated elite. They were persons of high personal cultivation and well-grounded tastes. On the intellectual elite of the 17th and 18th centuries the arts of modern advertising and propaganda would have been largely wasted. The 18th century Americans who read the heavy political literature of that period, such as was produced by the Adams, Jefferson, Monroe, Hamilton, and Franklin, would have furnished no market for the arts of the contributors to the popular publications of our day. Those Americans of the elite were doubtless wrong in their opinions as often, or as much, as the Americans of today, but they were able to expound and defend their opinions. Whereas the masses who get their opinions from subsidized institutions at the present time can only repeat them parrot-like in the terms in which advertising and propagandizing technique have planted such ideas in their minds. Most of the liberal assumptions about freedom of speech and the press presuppose that the written and spoken word is addressed mainly to an elite which maintains high standards of critical judgment.
Modern democracy and mass purchasing power, really, are most to be blamed for the creation of a selfish interest in the control and use of the institutions which can be made to educate with any desired purposes. The modern lobby is the creature of liberal democracy. It pays to advertise. It pays to educate the public to your purposes. Because it pays to educate the public to suit anti-social purposes, the liberal assumptions are fallacious and in this respect the fascist principles are inevitable. The more money you can make, the more you can control public education. Fascism does not seek to end the control of might, but it does aim at ending the control of irresponsible might such as is so often exercised under liberal capitalism.
Under a desirable form of fascism for Americans, national interest should not require the same drastic measures of suppression and assimilation of institutions as have been taken in Germany in connection with the church, the press, the theatre, the moving picture and the radio. Adequate observance of the essential principle for public order simply means in this connection that all institutions which educate with a social purpose must be careful to avoid educating people to be bad citizens and must cooperate with the State in its attempts to fit people for good citizenship. There are a great many differences of opinion, taste, and personal behavior consistent with satisfactory observance of the principle just stated. Different people can have different ways to suit their different types of personality and different personal aptitudes. Different people can also be educated to be good citizens in different ways, or through playing different roles.
It is not a difficult matter to pick out a hundred lessons in bad citizenship which are being given currently by our educative press, movies, radio, or schools. What is needed in this respect is less talk about an abstract freedom, which is essentially anarchy if really applied, and more effort to develop a rational technique of control through purposive education, with a view to making such education serve the ends of social welfare and order. Such effort must not be restricted to the field of child training but must be exercised in the entire field of purposive education of adults. Every social institution which is used to educate people with definite social purposes must be made to cooperate with the national plan. There must be no anti-social formation of character, mind, or group attitudes by any institution if it can be prevented. The rest of this chapter is devoted to a discussion of the problem of educational control, with reference especially to the school, which is a recognized educator with a social purpose. Most of what is said here in connection with the school (the reprinted article referred to above) will be found to apply equally to all institutions which are used to educate with definite social purposes.
To say that the school should be used to influence positively attitudes favoring one or another type of social living seems to me merely the making of the trite observation that the school ought to do what it has always done and what it cannot help doing. The school cannot help imparting knowledge of social facts or ideas. That, of course, is its special business. But it is also one of the daily performances of every human institution. It is not the peculiar feature of the school that it educates. Its most distinctive peculiarity is that it educates with consciously conceived and willed purposes. Those purposes are mainly to serve the supposed interests of the prevailing social order, or, really, certain interests conceived and willed by the dominant classes. It is one of the peculiar delusions that the school is the chief educator of the community. All human institutions are educators. The school, however, unlike the market place, for instance, educates with avowed purposes. An academically popular superstition about the school is the notion that social facts or ideas are objects which the school can dispense like cigarettes wrapped in cellophane. Facts and ideas are not objects. They are personal experiences. Social facts or ideas are not things existing outside and independently of the knowing, understanding, or judging person. To whatever extent the school teaches social facts, the school causes persons to undergo certain peculiarly personal experiences which involve the processes of the reason and the emotions, or processes which take place in the torso as well as the skull. Ideas about patriotism, religion, sex, and art are apprehended mainly in the sub-cranial areas. One of the conditions precedent to the occurrence of the learning, knowing, thinking, or judging experiences is the continuous maintenance of a set of attitudes towards the prevailing type of social living and towards any other social scheme actually operative somewhere in the world or merely imagined, should such other scheme or schemes condition the given experience of the person.
To suppose a person knowing a social fact independently of an attitude towards the social scheme in which he lives, and towards other social schemes which may affect his thinking and feeling, is as senseless as it would be to talk of weighing an object which was assumed to be floating through space an infinite and, hence, unknown distance from any planet. What gives sense to a personal experience (call it intellectual or emotional as you will) with a social fact or idea, is the relation or attitude of the person to his own and other social planets. We must reckon with the attraction or pull and also the repulsion of the social system operating on the individual in order to teach him a social fact.
In the processes of education or knowledge and thought we can do things only with persons equipped with attitudes towards the social scheme. Every educational experience affects such attitudes and is affected by them, just as the movement of every object on this planet affects the earth’s gravity and is affected by it. A person not equipped with and using, every moment of his conscious life, and particularly in respect to every intellectual experience, a set of attitudes towards the social scheme, is a hopeless idiot. He is not the mythical student with the objective mind.
The school is expressly charged with the function of contributing to the formation of attitudes as a part of the processes of causing persons to undergo the experiences of learning, thinking, and judging. As the school specialist is normally the hired man and an instrument of government of those who exercise a directive influence over government in the broadest sense of the term, the school normally aims to create right attitudes towards the prevailing social order.
Right, of course, is always a relative. A right attitude is an attitude which suits the purposes of the conceptual scheme of some person or the purpose of causing some given course of events to happen. There are, naturally, as many right attitudes or as many rights as there are conceptual schemes or courses of events, the realization of which would constitute a purpose to be served. Where such purposes conflict, whatever serves the realization of one’s own preferred scheme is one’s own standard of right. Civilization or social order is a matter of having a large group of people accept the same scheme or right. As a practical matter, any realizable scheme of interests or purposes of an individual, however selfish or reprehensible the person or the purposes may be considered, has to be a scheme which integrates the person in a social pattern.
Therefore, all rational or realizable personal schemes are social or collectivistic. They cannot have the qualities of a specious individualism which are found in the contrary-to-fact hypotheses of certain confused minds. The isolated-man-on-a-desert-isle situation is never a reality. Most of the talk about individualism versus collectivism going the rounds today is a sheer confusion of terms, ideas, and issues. A working capitalism, for instance, is ex-hypothesi and according to Adam Smith, a collectivism of freedom of contract. If it breaks down, it breaks down because its collectivistic characteristics fail, or, specifically, because the motives and mechanisms of the free market in their operation no longer secure the collectivistic result of an efficient and social cooperation of the factors of production.
Why these motives and mechanisms so fail, or why capitalism fails in its collectivism, is another story. For the explanation you can try Marx, J.A. Hobson, Spengler, or Freud. The first purpose of any social scheme is to work. Whatever makes it work is right for it. If it works well as a system, it must involve the cooperation of a lot of people, for whom it must work well enough to secure their cooperation. People may cooperate with the social scheme by fleecing or being fleeced, by sending their first born to Groton or, throwing him into the Ganges.
The right attitudes which the school is supposed to inculcate are those which suit the purposes of the system, or make it work. If the social order is destroying itself, or, to be more accurate, if it is being destroyed by agencies and forces which are integral parts of its organic life, it will naturally follow that the well run school will serve those purposes. It may be objected that suicide cannot be a rational purpose of anyone or anything. But why not? In the life cycle of a human being, processes innate in his being begin destroying him as soon as he reaches maturity and achieve their work forty to a hundred years later. These processes are constantly killing Platos and Edisons, and breeding Jukes and Dillingers. It just is not one of the purposes of the course of events we may call life to make one person or one civilization live forever. The school will be as instrumental in the processes of culture degeneration as in the processes of culture generation. The idea that the right sort of education will preserve a civilization from decay is as absurd as the notion that the right sort of medicine or science will keep people from ever dying.
In a dying civilization the school will naturally be the tool of the decadent elite until the vigorous barbarians of the new order, also of the elite (the outs over any length of time are always barbarians), capture the state and the government. If a realist feels moved to change his civilization he may seek spiritual leadership or political power, or both. In the one case, he may go into the wilderness and eat locusts and wild honey; in the other case, he may pick the crown of France out of the gutter with the point of his sword. In neither case will the drama of his passion for power over men be played in the role of an instrument of the order he abhors or despises.
In government or politics, ultimately you either buy or shoot your way, or both. The cross, the crescent, the hammer and sickle, and the swastika, alike, have shot their way to power. The social revolutionist usually cannot buy his way; often he or his disciple can shoot his way. The school man can do neither. He follows those who can and do buy or shoot their way.
There have been civilizations in which men at times cumulated successfully the functions of school teaching, political command, and spiritual leadership. Medieval Christendom, with its all-embracing spiritual synthesis, furnishes an example. Modern capitalism, by carrying to absurd extremes the principles of division of labor or specialization, separation instead of coordination of powers, and atomic fractionalization instead of purposive synthesis of social factors, has rendered this cumulation of the governing functions of the priest, the teacher, the soldier, and the administrator quite impossible. Hence, political government tends to be the work of specialists whose type pattern is the Tammany politician; economic government tends to be the work of specialists whose type pattern is a man of the Mitchell or Insull sort; while teaching tends to be the work of specialists whose type pattern is a frustrated old maid.
It is, of course, possible for the superman to pass from the school to the White House, just as a Persian in the present century passed from stable boy to king. The point, however, is that the school, under modern capitalism, cannot be integrated with the highest mechanisms or personalities of government and social control. Exceptionally, a prophet or spiritual leader at war with the existing order, instead of serving as its docile instrument of mass conditioning for three square meals a day, will cumulate the functions of minor prophecy and petty pedagogy. If he continues to do so, it is because his influence is too negligible to warrant his dismissal. Ultimately, the amour propre, even of a very minor prophet, will require some substantial tribute to his effectiveness, such as a sensational dismissal can afford. Major prophets must either be crucified or crowned (king of kings and lord of lords) or both, for only such supreme tributes can satisfy the ego of a man big enough to impose his ideal on his fellow men.
The social ideal of the prevailing system should be made explicit by the school. A contrary ideal should not be given a chance of success with any significant number of students. The educational theory that a scale of views and situations should be presented to the student in the hope that attitudes requisite for orderly social living under the given scheme will develop by the processes of individual selection is wholly fallacious. Either the theory is a misrepresentation of what is actually undertaken and accomplished in the educational enterprise, or else the theory is a statement of what has never been practiced and what, if tried out, would result immediately in social anarchy. It is hard enough to preserve sanity in the machine age. The difficulties ought not to be aggravated by gratuitous misrepresentations of the educational process.
Keeping sane requires that we recognize as the chief end of social agencies, including the school, the maintenance and enrichment of the social order, not the production of individuals as isolated entities, or disembodied personalities endowed with the faculty of living in or out of the social scheme as they may choose. The chief function of purposive education has to do with catching human beings in their formative years and integrating them into the social scheme as far as that can be done in youth. The end of this integration is a social order, not the formation of a lot of personal entities supposedly free either to fit themselves into society or not, mainly as the preference of each may incline him. As Hobbes taught, life is the war of all against all. One of the ends of any civilization is to mitigate the evils of this anarchy by resolving considerable groups of people into workable schemes of social organization which permit of social cooperation and the consequent enjoyment of some degree of order and peace in the world during lengthy periods of time.
Now, few persons in the first twenty or thirty years of their lives, even if given access to the world’s fund of social knowledge and Socrates for a tutor, could evolve a workable conceptual scheme of society of their own into which to fit themselves. And, if a number of people worked out such schemes, the schemes would all differ, whereas only one scheme of society could be operative for a large group. The problem of civilization is to make one social scheme operative for a given people, and this means, among other requisites, that it must be made explicit. The problem of the school is to help fit people into that scheme. Any opposite philosophy of civilization and education is absurd, impractical, and vicious. It is absurd, because no social order that has order can allow its schools to train people in ways deliberately calculated to make large numbers of them enemies of the social order. It is absurd because the premise of an individual in awful isolation from his group, is untenable for any useful hypothesis of social organization. Such an individual cannot exist.
The theory of educating individuals rather than citizens is impractical for the same reasons. And it is vicious because it involves an educational technique of false rationalizations and deceit which contributes to mental and emotional unbalance, and because it creates a large number of enemies of the social order who do not become creative revolutionists but frustrated escapists, futilely flitting between a real world where they are unfulfilled and a fantasy world of wishful thinking where nothing is ever fulfilled except insanity.
The escapists produced by an educational technique combining the worst of Bentham and Marx with the best of neither become split personalities. Part of the time they are trying to adjust themselves to a bread and butter job, and the other part of the time they are trying to adjust social reality to personal fantasy by impotent manifestations of hate and bitterness. Because we admire Socrates and Jesus is no reason why we should suppose that the purpose of the school, necessarily conducted by a host of salaried mediocrities, is to create social rebels. The social rebels will happen just as surely as civilizations rise and fall, or as men are born and die. They will happen in spite of the school, not because of it.
The school must be one of the instruments of government of the group culture. The group culture should be the expression of the will of the dominant element of the elite, whose values are validated by the power to enforce them. This method of validating values is the only one by which an argument can ever be ended and cooperative activity made possible. You can have social order only to the extent that you can settle arguments or end conflicts, even if only temporarily. The boundaries of the dominant elite and the rebellious elite mark the only significant class cleavage. The masses divide naturally among the warring groups of the elite. As the elite are the leaders, the directives lie with them. Directions of social trends are determined by them. Education does not make or unmake the elite. It equips them and increases their social distance from the masses. It raises their potentialities as instruments of creation, destruction, and combat, processes which make up the mysterious drama of life.
Purposive education and the technique of mass guidance are purely instrumental in the many enterprises of the leaders. These instrumentalities neither select nor validate ultimate values. Nor do they materially determine ultimate results of conflicts. No single instrumentality won the War. A preponderance of force factors determined it. Both sides used the same factors-machine guns, schools, tanks, press, etc. There can be no conflict except between classes or groups which have approximately the same instruments or force factors. (God and justice are with all the belligerents.) This is a fact that Marxists disregard. There is no important conflict today between the hungry and well-fed in America, because command and possession of the force factors is with the well-fed.
Foxes and rabbits don’t fight. Today fighting has to be done by soldiers. Decisive conflict is between those who can command soldiers — not mere voters or trade union members. A kind, humane civilization should realize the following two conditions. First, it must suit my purposes as a person, or it must give me a suitable function as an individual. Every individual must be the center of his ethical or social scheme. For an individual there can be no validity to a social scheme in which he has no place. Whether the scheme suits him and whether he suits the scheme depends mainly on who he is and what social conditioning has made him. Let not this placing of the individual at the center of his own ethical system be called individualism. It is the purest collectivism. Any collectivism must successfully integrate a considerable number of individuals, for each of whom the collectivism centers around himself and his role. This merely means that the social scheme fits the individual and the individual fits the scheme. The point is that if the scheme works, those in charge of the social scheme will purposively direct most of the fitting, and some of their most useful fitters will be the schoolman and the priest. God, right, truth, and beauty are personal experiences.
To be successfully adjusted, an individual does not have to have two cars or even a full stomach. He merely needs to have a place, or, to belong. The social system may fit me and I may fit it, I being a barefooted, penitent pilgrim, a missionary to the lepers, or a plumed knight in shining armor. People don’t mind suffering. On the contrary, some of them love to suffer all of the time, and all of them love to suffer some of the time. What people cannot endure is not belonging. The tragedy of capitalism-unemployment-does not inhere in the phenomena of want and privation, but in the spiritual disintegration of large numbers of people from the group culture. Hitler can feed millions of his people acorns, and, yet, if he integrates them in a spiritual union with their community, they will be happier than they were while receiving generous doles from a regime which gave them no such spiritual integration with the herd. In so far as the school is a force for spiritual integration it is mightier than the dole.
A second set of requisites of a humane civilization is that the dominant elite should know what they want, that they should give the people what they think best for the people, and that they should make the people both like and fit the scheme. The elite always determine what the masses get. Nowhere is this more apparent than in present-day Communist Russia, which enjoys an oversimplified dictatorship of the proletariat and of everybody else in Russia) by certain of the elite. The elite leaders are a permanent power-holding or power-seeking class. When one set of the elite kicks out another, it is merely the old story of
The King is dead! Long live the King! The average man goes on doing as he is told. It makes little difference to him whether his surplus goes to building private yachts for capitalists or an air fleet for the Soviet Commissars. Whatever the elite impose on the people, they should use good educational technique to make the people like. Whatever the elite demand of the people, they should use good educational technique to enable the people to do. This is the work of purposive education. Conditioning a people to like what they have and to do their part is a simple exercise in educational technique. The real difficulty arises not out of the inadequacy of educational technique but out of the failure of the elite to have unity in emotional responses or intellectual clarity as to ultimate values and objectives. In these matters the instrumental or purposive education of the school is of minor importance. The struggle for existence must educate and unify men’s hearts and clarify their minds in ways to produce a dominant or efficient group of the elite.
In so far as the school does a good job for its masters, who are never the schoolmasters, the school population will be in the rear-guard of social revolution. The education of the struggle for existence, however, sometimes gets at the student population, as it has done in most European countries which have not so effectively insulated their youth against the currents of social ideas, as the country club atmosphere of our colleges, or the kindergarten atmosphere of our lower schools, have done for our youth. In America today, the important social education is going on in shanty town, the bread line, the code conferences, mortgage foreclosure sales, and the relief committees. The social teaching of the schools, particularly in economics, ethics, and law, is largely out of date, contrary to experience, irrelevant, and trivial. So are most of the teachers. The American schools have no teachers of the social importance of educators like the late Huey Long and Father Coughlin. The pupils of the latter will fight and die for what they are being taught; the school pupil may vicariously fight on the playing fields for dear old Siwash, but he won’t fight for what Siwash professors are teaching. The founders of Siwash had a fighting faith; but the endowed pensioners of Siwash deem it bad form to have a conviction. There is an irony and a moral in the social insignificance of the American school in the present crisis. No school has ever been more popularized, praised, petted, or pampered with money. It has been the kept darling of the plutocracy and the idolized plaything of the masses. In the main, neither group has numbered many devotees of any scheme of civilized values. Serious interest in the school has centered around getting a technical preparation, or useful connections for money-making, or else around getting a job in the schools. For the masses, the school is a necessary process to enable them to read signs and advertisements. For the more favored the school has been a playground.
The moral is obvious. The school realizes its highest possibilities only as the instrument of a dominant elite who not only have cultural values but who also are prepared to express them in the manifold enterprises of social control, which include fighting and governing as well as teaching.
The American school will come into its own when it becomes alive with the spirit of men of strong convictions and iron wills to achieve. The school will be an instrument of a high culture when it recognizes fulfillment, achievement, and deeds to be the test of truth, right, and beauty, not normative verbalisms, the precise meaning and correct application of which men can and will go on disagreeing about to the end of time. In short, the school can only attain its highest dignity or fulfill its noblest destiny as an integrated part of the creative machinery of a civilization.