Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Nationalizing Education, by John Dewey



The words "nation" and "national" have two quite different meanings. We cannot profitably discuss the nationalizing of education unless we are clear as to the difference between the two. For one meaning indicates something desirable, something to be cultivated by education, while the other stands for something to be avoided as an evil plague. The idea which has given the movement toward nationality which has been such a feature of the last century its social vitality, is the consciousness of a community of history and purpose larger than that of the family, the parish, the sect, and the province. The upbuilding of national states has substituted a unity of feeling and aim, a freedom of intercourse, over wide areas, for earlier local isolations, suspicions, jealousies, and hatreds. It has forst men out of narrow sectionalisms into membership in a larger social unit, and created loyalty to a state which subordinates petty and selfish interests.

One cannot say this, however, without being at once reminded that nationalism has had another side. With the possible exception of our own country, the national states of the modern world have been built up thru conflict. The development of a sense of unity within a charmed area has been accompanied by dislike, by hostility, to all without. Skilful politicians and other self-seekers have always known how to play cleverly upon patriotism and upon ignorance of other peoples, to identify nationalism with latent hatred of other nations. Without exaggeration, the present world war may be said to be the outcome of this aspect of nationalism, and to present it in its naked unloveliness.

In the past our geographical isolation has largely protected us from the harsh, selfish, and exclusive aspect of nationalism. The absence of pressure from without, the absence of active and urgent rivalry and hostility of powerful neighbors, has perhaps played a part in the failure to develop an adequate unity of sentiment and idea for the country as a whole. Individualism of a go-as-you-please type has had too full swing. We have an inherited jealousy of any strong national governing agencies, and we have been inclined to let things drift rather than to think out a central, controlling policy. But the effect of the war has been to make us aware that the days of geographical isolation are at an end, and also to make us conscious that we are lacking in an integrated social sense and policy for our country as a whole, irrespective of classes and sections.

We are now faced by the difficulty of developing the good aspect of nationalism without its evil side - of developing a nationalism which is the friend and not the foe of internationalism. Since this is a matter of ideas, pi emotions, of intellectual and moral disposition and outlook, it depends for its accomplishment upon educational agencies, not upon outward machinery. Among these educational agencies, the public school takes first rank. When sometime in the remote future the tale is summed up and the public, as distinct from the private and merely personal, achievement of the common school is recorded, the question which will have to be answered is, What has the American public school done toward subordinating a local, provincial, sectarian, and partisan spirit of mind to aims and interests which are common to all the men and women of the country - to what extent has it taught men to think and feel in ideas broad enough to be inclusive of the purposes and happiness of all sections and classes? For unless the agencies which form the mind and morals of the community can prevent the operation of those forces which are always making for a division of interests, class and sectional ideas and feelings will become dominant, and our democracy will fall to pieces.

Unfortunately at the present time one result of the excitement which the war has produced is that many influential and well-meaning persons attempt to foster the growth of an inclusive nationalism by appeal to our fears, our suspicions, our jealousies, and our latent hatreds. They would make the measure of our national preparedness our readiness to meet other nations in destructive war rather than our fitness to co-operate with them in the constructive tasks of peace. They are so disturbed by what has been revealed of internal division, of lack of complete national integration, that they have lost faith in the slow policies of education. They would kindle a sense of our dependence upon one another by making us afraid of peoples outside of our border; they would bring about unity within by laying stress upon our separateness from others. The situation makes it all the more necessary that those concerned with education should withstand popular clamor for a nationalism based upon hysterical excitedness or mechanical drill, or a combination of the two. We must ask what a real nationalism, a real Americanism, is like. For unless we know our own character and purpose, we are not likely to be intelligent in our selection of the means to further them.

I want to mention only two elements in the nationalism which our education should cultivate. The first is that the American nation is itself complex and compound. Strictly speaking, it is inter-racial and international in its make-up. It is composed of a multitude of peoples speaking different tongues, inheriting diverse traditions, cherishing varying ideals of life. This fact is basic to our nationalism as distinct from that of other peoples. Our national motto, "One from Many," cuts deep and extends far. It denotes a fact which doubtless adds to the difficulty of getting a genuine unity. But it also immensely enriches the possibilities of the result to be attained. No matter how loudly any one proclaims his Americanism, if he assumes that any one racial strain, any one component culture, no matter how early settled it was in our territory, or how effective it has proved in its own land, is to furnish a pattern to which all other strains and cultures are to conform, he is a traitor to an American nationalism. Our unity cannot be a homogeneous thing like that of the separate states of Europe from which our population is drawn; it must be a unity created by drawing out and composing into a harmonious whole the best, the most characteristic, which each contributing race and people has to offer.

I find that many who talk the loudest about the need of a supreme and unified Americanism of spirit really mean some special code or tradition to which they happen to be attacht. They have some pet tradition which they would impose upon all. In thus measuring the scope of Americanism by some single element which enters into it they are themselves false to the spirit of America. Neither Englandism nor New-Englandism, neither Puritan nor Cavalier, any more than Teuton or Slav, can do anything but furnish one note in a vast symphony.

The way to deal with hyphenism, in other words, is to welcome it, but to welcome it in the sense of extracting from each people its special good, so that it shall surrender into a common fund of wisdom and experience what it especially has to contribute. All of these surrenders and contributions taken together create the national spirit of America. The dangerous thing is for each factor to isolate itself, to try to live off its past, and then to attempt to impose itself upon other elements, or, at least, to keep itself intact and thus refuse to accept what other cultures have to offer, so as thereby to be transmuted into authentic Americanism.

In what is rightly objected to as hyphenism, the hyphen has become something which separates one people from other peoples, and thereby prevents American nationalism. Such terms as Irish-American or HebrewAmerican or German-American are false terms because they seem to assume something which is already in existence called America, to which the other factor may be externally hitcht on. The fact is, the genuine American, the typical American, is himself a hyphenated character. This does not mean that he is part American and that some foreign ingredient is then added. It means that, as I have said, he is international and interracial in his make-up. He is not American plus Pole or German. But the American is himself Pole-German-English-French-Spanish-Italian-Greek-Irish-Scandinavian-Bohemian-Jew- and so on. The point is to see to it that the hyphen connects instead of separates. And this means at least that our public schools shall teach each factor to respect every other, and shall take pains to enlighten all as to the great past contributions of every strain in our composite make-up. I wish our teaching of American history in the schools would take more account of the great waves of migration by which our land for over three centuries has been continuously built up, and made every pupil conscious of the rich breadth of our national make-up. When every pupil recognizes all the factors which have gone into our being, he will continue to prize and reverence that coming from his own past, but he will think of it as honored in being simply one factor in forming a whole, nobler and finer than itself.

In short, unless our education is nationalized in a way which recognizes that the peculiarity of our nationalism is its internationalism, we shall breed enmity and division in our frantic efforts to secure unity. The teachers of the country know this fact much better than do many of its politicians. While too often politicians have been fostering a vicious hyphenatedism and sectionalism as a bid for votes, teachers have been engaged in transmuting beliefs and feelings once divided and opposed, into a new thing under the sun - a national spirit inclusive not exclusive, friendly not jealous. This they have done by the influence of personal contact, co-operative intercourse, and sharing in common tasks and hopes. The teacher who has been an active agent in furthering the common struggle of native-born, African, Jew, Italian, and perhaps a score of other peoples, to attain emancipation and enlightenment will never become a party to a conception of America as a nation which conceives of its history and its hopes as less broad than those of humanity - let politicians clamor for their own ends as they will.

The other point in the constitution of a genuine American nationalism to which I invite attention is that we have been occupied during the greater part of our history in subduing nature, not one another or other peoples. I once heard two foreign visitors coming from different countries discuss what had been imprest upon them as the chief trait of the American people. One said vigor, youthful and buoyant energy. The other said it was kindness, the disposition to live and let live, the absence of envy at the success of others. I like to think that while both of these ascribed traits have the same cause back of them, the latter statement goes deeper. Not that we have more virtue, native or acquired, than others, but that we have had more room, more opportunity. Consequently, the same conditions which have put a premium upon active and hopeful energy have permitted the kindlier instincts of man to express themselves. The spaciousness of a continent not previously monopolized by man has stimulated vigor and has also diverted activity from the struggle against fellow-man into the struggle against nature. When men make their gains by fighting in common a wilderness, they have not the motive for mutual distrust which comes when they get ahead only by fighting one another. I recently heard a story which seems to me to have something typical about it. Some manufacturers were discussing the problem of labor. They were loud in their complaints. They were bitter against the exactions of unions, and full of tales of an inefficiency which seemed to them calculated. Then one of them said: "Oh, well! Poor devils! They haven't much of a chance and have to do what they can to hold their own. If we were in their place, we should be just the same." And the others nodded assent and the conversation lapst. I call this characteristic, for if there was not an ardent sympathy, there was at least a spirit of toleration and passive recognition.

But with respect to this point as well as with respect to our composite make-up, the situation is changing. We no longer have a large unoccupied continent. Pioneer days are past, and natural resources are possest. There is danger that the same causes which have set the hand of man against his neighbor in other countries will have the same effect here. Instead of sharing in a common fight against nature, we are already starting to fight against one another, class against class, haves against have-nots. The change puts a definite responsibility upon the schools to sustain our true national spirit. The virtues of mutual esteem, of human forbearance, and well-wishing, which in our earlier days were the unconscious products of circumstances, must now be the conscious fruit of an education which forms the deepest springs of character.

Teachers above all others have occasion to be distrest when the earlier idealism of welcome to the opprest is treated as a weak sentimentalism, when sympathy for the unfortunate and those who have not had a fair chance is regarded as a weak indulgence fatal to efficiency. Our traditional disposition in these respects must now become a central motive in public education, not as a matter of condescension or patronizing, but as essential to the maintenance of a truly American spirit. All this puts a responsibilicy upon the schools which can be met only by widening the scope of educational facilities. The schools have now to make up to the disinherited masses by conscious instruction, by the development of personal power, skill, ability, and initiative, for the loss of external opportunities consequent upon the passing of our pioneer days. Otherwise power is likely to pass more and more into the hands of the wealthy, and we shall end with this same alliance between intellectual and artistic culture and economic power due to riches, which has been the curse of every civilization in the past, and which our fathers in their democratic idealism thought this nation was to put an end to.

Since the idea of the nation is equal opportunity for all, to nationalize education means to use the schools as a means for making this idea effective. There was a time when this could be done more or less well simply by providing schoolhouses, desks, blackboards, and perhaps books. But that day has past. Opportunities can be equalized only as the schools make it their active serious business to enable all alike to become masters of their own industrial fate. That growing movement which is called industrial or vocational education now hangs in the scales. If it is so constructed in practice as to produce merely more competent hands for subordinate clerical and shop positions, if its purpose is shaped to drill boys and girls into certain forms of automatic skill which will make them useful in carrying out the plans of others, it means that, instead of nationalizing education in the spirit of our nation, we have given up the battle, and decided to refeudalize education.

I have said nothing about the point which my title most naturally suggests - changes in administrative methods which will put the resources of the whole nation at the disposition of the more backward and less fortunate portions, meaning by resources not only money but expert advice and guidance of every sort. I have no doubt that we shall move in the future away from a merely regional control of the public schools in the direction of a more central regulation. I say nothing about this phase of the matter at this time, not only because it brings up technical questions, but because this side of the matter is but the body, the mechanism of a nationalized education. To nationalize American education is to use education to promote our national idea, which is the idea of democracy. This is the soul, the spirit, of a nationalized education, and, unless the administrative changes are executed so as to embody this soul, they will mean simply the development of red tape, a mechanical uniformity and a deadening supervision from above. ,

Just because the circumstances of the war have brought the idea of the nation and the national to the foreground of everyone's thoughts, the most important thing is to bear in mind that there are nations and nations, this kind of nationalism and that. Unless I am mistaken, there are some now using the cry of an American nationalism, of an intensified national patriotism, to further ideas which characterize the European nations, especially those most active in the war, but which are treasonable to the ideal of our nation. Therefore, I have taken this part of your time to remind you of the fact that our nation and democracy are equivalent terms; that our democracy means amity and good will to all humanity (including those beyond our border), and equal opportunity for all within. Since as a nation we are composed of representatives of all nations who have come here to live in peace with one another and to escape the enmities and jealousies which characterize old-world nations, to nationalize our education means to make it an instrument in the active and constant suppression of the war spirit and in the positive cultivation of sentiments of respect and friendship for all men and women, wherever they live. Since our democracy means the substitution of equal opportunity for all for the old-world ideal of unequal opportunity for different classes, and the limitation of the individual by the class to which he belongs, to nationalize our education is to make the public school an energetic and willing instrument in developing initiative, courage, power, and personal ability in each individual. If we can get our education nationalized in spirit in these directions, the nationalizing of the administrative machinery will in the end take care of itself. So I appeal to teachers in the face of every hysterical wave of emotion, and of every subtle appeal of sinister class interest, to remember that they, above all others, are the consecrated servants of the democratic ideas in which alone this country is truly a distinctive nation - ideas of friendly and helpful intercourse between all and the equipment of every individual to serve the community by his own best powers in his own best way.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Tea Partiers did not deface Plymouth Rock

Here's another story that I am Johnny-come-lately on: Anarchists Deface Plymouth Rock

To me, a story like this is a great opportunity to further educate about the history of progressivism. Anarchists are completely different from conservatives, but that has never stopped progressives from mixing the two and it hasn't for 100 years. I had a lot of fun putting that post together, I encourage everybody to lift and use all of the original sources for your own benefit. You don't have to click that link. Here they are again, the original sources.

Harry Reid says: (video)

When I was in school, I studied government and I learned about the anarchists. Now, they were different than the Tea Party because they were violent. But they were anarchists because they did not believe in government in any level and they acknowledged it. The Tea Party kind of hides that. They don't say they're against government, but that is what it all amounts to.

Woodrow Wilson says: (full synopsis)

Such a commission would be in fact a commission to discover, amidst our present economic chaos, a common interest, so that we might legislate for the whole country instead of for this, that, or the other interest, one by one.

John Dewey says:

Peoples who have learned that billions are available for public needs when the occasion presses will not forget the lesson, and having seen that portions of these billions are necessarily diverted into physical training, industrial education, better housing, and the setting up of agencies for securing a public service and function from private industries will ask why in the future the main stream should not be directed in the same channels.

In short, we shall have a better organized world internally as well as externally, a more integrated, less anarchic, system.

FDR's Fabian advisor, Stuart Chase, says:

Political democracy can remain if it confines itself to all but economic matters; democracy in consumption will make enormous strides as standards of living are leveled upward; industrial individualism - anarchy is a better term - in the sense of each businessman for himself, each corporation for itself, must be disallowed.

FDR says, Raymond Moley tells us: (I had to use multiple links to put this together)

The beliefs that economic bigness was here to stay; that the problem of government was to enable the whole people to enjoy the benefits of mass production and distribution (economy and security); and that it was the duty of government to devise, with business, the means of social and individual adjustment to the facts of the industrial age—these were the heart and soul of the New Deal.

Its fundamental purpose was an effort to modify the characteristics of a chaotic competitive system that could and did produce sweatshops, child labor, rackets, ruinous price cutting, a devastated agriculture, and a score of other blights even in the peak year of 1928. Its chief objective was the initiation of preliminary steps toward a balanced and dynamic economic system.

So as you can see, Harry Reid's belief is nothing new. Progressives have been confusing free markets with anarchy for 100 years. It's a short-coming of the central planner, he believes that if he or government is not the one controlling it, then nobody must be controlling it, ergo, it's anarchic. The idea of limited government and the rule of law is a false narrative to the statist.

This is something that all of us can easily prove just by leveraging the original sources.

Does this mean that progressives now support nullification?

How many of you missed this story? EPA overrides Congress, hands over town to Indian tribes

Here's the first paragraph:

Have you heard the story of the residents of Riverton, Wyo.? One day they were Wyomingans, the next they were members of the Wind River tribes — after the Environmental Protection Agency declared the town part of the Wind River Indian Reservation, undoing a 1905 law passed by Congress and angering state officials.

But here's how I read it:

Have you heard the story of the residents of Riverton, Wyo.? One day they were Wyomingans, the next they were members of the Wind River tribes — after the Environmental Protection Agency declared the town part of the Wind River Indian Reservation, nullifying a 1905 law passed by Congress and angering state officials.

Its not that progressives oppose nullification. What progressives oppose is nullification which originates from the states. This story explains how the EPA has expanded its power, and centralized power is the modus operandi for these people. The more centralized, the more the voters have nothing to say about it, the better. It's in their history.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

An amendable Constitution is the opposite counterpart to a living constitution, not dead

IMHO, One of the worst unintended consequences of the mischaracterization of the US Constitution as 'living' is that it urges a response to what is the readily-available/exact opposite.

The problem is, the United States Constitution is not a dead constitution. To illustrate, I would like to make a list of dead constitutions for you in the hopes that it will help set up what may be a proper comparison.

The Constitution of Rome, is a dead constitution.

The Solonian Constitution, is a dead constitution.

The Constitution of Prussia, is a dead constitution. (All three of them)

The Constitution of Burma, is a dead constitution.(First two.)

The Constitution of The German Empire as well as the Weimar Constitution, are both dead constitutions.

The point being, they are dead because they are obviously dead. Nobody pays attention to them, nobody lives under them. They are historical show pieces at this point, nothing more.

Yesterday I put a video lecture online highlighting what I believe to be a very useful observation - that the British Constitution is a living and breathing document. This observation came as part of the things I post, but it came to a head for a summer paper that I wrote for my last history class. I wrote about that paper in my prior here so I don't need to re-hash it. But two paragraphs from that paper I would really like to lift and put on display.

If the American Constitution is not living and breathing, then what is it? Well first, just because it is not “living” does not mean that it is “dead”. If you want to see an example of a dead constitution, look to Rome. While Rome's “constitution” was uncodified similarly to what Britain has, another example of a dead constitution would be the Kingdom of Prussia. Constitutions are legal documents, they do not live and breathe in the way that Wilson tried to describe, but considering how Wilson laid out his concept of a living document, we can comfortably say that Britain's model fits the mold as if that is what he was describing all along.

While constitutions do not “live” along these lines, if the societies that they are tied to die or become eclipsed, such as Rome and Prussia, then the documents are as dead as the societies that used to be subject to them. If the American Constitution were ever to die, then that means that the American People will have repealed and replaced her and reverted back to a more monarchical form. To put this simply, the opposite of a living and breathing document is an amendable document; not living, not dead; amendable. Our Constitution with it's amendment process and high bars is in and of itself proof that it's not a living and breathing document, it's an amendable document.

With living beings, the opposite of "living" is "dead".

With legal documents, the opposite of "living" is "amendable".

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Progressingamerica lecture 1: comparing living and breathing constitutions

Now that 2014 is here, I have decided that I want to take the project in a slightly different direction. I have all of this information, but what good is it if it isn't put to good use? The audiobooks are great, but I still want to do more. For that reason, I have put together my first lecture based on some of my archived posts. I plan to do three of these, all based on different topics, to see if I should do more of them.

I have already posted the transcript for the lecture here, with some small difference. I recorded in first person to take ownership of the message. The transcript is written more objectively.

This first lecture is based almost entirely upon a research paper that I wrote for my last history class over the summer. I have uploaded my research paper to the internet as well, but I want it to be said that there are things in this paper which are troublesome to me. It's a college class - so I have to write based on the professor's requirements. But given that, I tried the best I could to move into the topic of my choice. That's part of what led me to do a lecture on this. I wanted my real message to be broken free and put out to a wider audience. But given as my paper has 21 primary sources in it, it is properly cited and academically reviewed, and it is in full APA format, I want to put this out there for others to use. The one thing missing is the title page, but I'm sure people can understand my reasons for removing that before uploading. :-)

And of course, this paper got me an A. I never doubted that outcome even when I started.

The paper is here. On

Tinyurl for

Friday, January 17, 2014

Does being unwritten make the British Constitution a living and breathing document?

Most conservatives resist the notion that the Constitution is a living and breathing document. But perhaps the notion is worth a second look if you just ask the following question: Which constitution? Once you decide to start comparing constitutions you might be surprised at your findings. There are living Constitutions out there, they just don't apply to the United States of America.

This article is built around three goals. First, to highlight a small piece of the history of Progressivism and how it relates to what’s written. Second, to highlight the discovery process -- without a continued curiosity of the era between 1900 and 1920 by the author, this might not have been considered. Third, to compare the two constitutions, the British Constitution and the American Constitution.

It all starts with Woodrow Wilson. Quite literally, the notion that the United States Constitution is a living and breathing document is a Wilsonian construct. The first time Wilson makes this point is in his 1908 book "Constitutional Government in the United States", in which he says on page 57:

Living political constitutions must be Darwinian in structure and in practice.

He expands on this idea during the 1912 election in one of his speeches titled "What Is Progress?":

Society is a living organism and must obey the laws of life, not of mechanics; it must develop.

All that progressives ask or desire is permission - in an era when "development," "evolution," is the scientific word - to interpret the Constitution according to the Darwinian principle; all they ask is recognition of the fact that a nation is a living thing and not a machine.

Just these words right here, and knowing who wrote them, give us tremendous power. Modern progressives will hem and haw if you ask them straight up what they mean by the notion "living and breathing document", but with this you can nail them on it. This is how the notion was built, this is its foundation. By saying that progressives want to interpret the Constitution along the Darwinian principle, what Wilson is saying is that he wishes to substitute one version of meaning with another version of meaning, even while assuming the exact same words exist on paper. Even for the most casual observer of the Supreme Court, you know that's what progressives want, they just never admit it. Wilson's background on this is not just highly interesting, it gives us an even greater ability to further erode the false reality that progressives live in.

Wilson held other ideological beliefs that shine light upon the notion, such as his belief in what he called "the spirit of the age". That is, the current generation is the only generation that matters. Now it is true that the Earth belongs to the living, but Wilson was no Jeffersonian. Jefferson believed that history was an important guide while Wilson is just like every other progressive, or rather, most progressives are much more Wilsonian than they realize. Progressives have no use at all for substantive history and tradition, it gets in the way of their schemes. Understanding what Wilson means when he talks about the spirit of the age is best summed up with what he told the Jefferson Club in 1911:

If you want to understand the real Declaration of Independence, do not repeat the preface.

What's in the "preface"? For most of us, that is the important things. For Wilson, that's where you find all of the inconvenient things. Without the "preface" all you have left is a list of grievances that are unmoored from the highly important anchor of Natural Law, all that's left is a list of grievances -- the spirit of that specific age.

Wilson's campaign for Governor of New Jersey also gives us insight into his belief system. While a candidate, Wilson publicly stated that if he were to win his election he would be an "Unconstitutional Governor". Wilson explained that while his opponent would gladly fill the role of governor as described in the state constitution, he would not. Once elected, Wilson would go on to meddle in the affairs of the NJ congressional delegations and act outside of New Jersey constitutional proscription. As Governor, Wilson acted much more like a Prime Minister than he did a Governor of a state.

Woodrow Wilson was also a huge fan of British Parliamentarianism, that's how he knew how to act like a Prime Minister so well and it is what led the discovery process. Wilson specifically cites Walter Bagehot numerous times in different speeches as well as cites one of Bagehot's best known books "The English Constitution" repeatedly in his 1887 PhD dissertation, "Congressional Government: A Study in American Politics".

So what of this British Constitution? Well for starters, it is unwritten. Which means that every single time you go to reference it you can interpret it however and in whatever way you wish. Does that sound living and breathing to you? According to the website of Pearson Education under the appropriate title of "The Changing Constitution", (And Parliament's own website) we find that their constitution only requires a simple 50+1 percent majority to modify. Not two thirds of both houses, not three-fourths of the states. Is the American Constitution starting to sound a lot more rock-solid to you yet? Another web page of Parliament makes it clear that the British Constitution relies upon 21 primary documents spanning back to the Magna Carta.

How many spirits of how many ages does that make their Constitution subject to? And therein lies why it's so important to understand Wilson in all of this. Everything you learned about his beliefs applies not to the American Constitution, but the British Constitution.

It is worth considering that some of you may be saying to yourselves that the amendments to the American Constitution inject a spirit of the age into it. This is true to a degree, but that is certainly not what Wilson was saying, and progressives today never say that. Their argument is always that the whole thing as it sits is subject to re-interpretation and that's exactly the way their judicial activists rule. But that could not be further from the truth. Our Constitution is written. You can see the words that comprise it, you can study what those words meant when it was ratified, and you can print a copy of it for yourself. You cannot print a copy of the British Constitution, it doesn't exist. That means every time there is a constitutional question, they end up with a different and unique interpretation.

Based on the history and the facts, you should reconsider the notion’s legitimacy. It seems readily clear that the British Constitution is without a doubt living and breathing, considering its structure as well as how Wilson laid his concept, and Wilson’s background ideology. But then if the British Constitution is living and breathing, then the American Constitution cannot also be living and breathing. These two documents by comparison are just too different.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

The importance of subtlety and reader perception to manipulative journalism

"The subtlest and most pervasive of all influences ere those which create and maintain the repertory of stereotypes. We are told about the world before we see it. We imagine most things before we experience them. And those preconceptions, unless education has made us acutely aware, govern deeply the whole process of perception." - Walter Lippmann, "Public Opinion", page 89.

So who creates and controls these preconceptions? Journalists do, and he knows it. He says so on page 355:

It is a problem of provoking feeling in the reader, of inducing him to feel a sense of personal identification with the stories he is reading. News which does not offer this opportunity to introduce oneself into the struggle which it depicts cannot appeal to a wide audience. The audience must participate in the news, much as it participates in the drama, by personal identification. Just as everyone holds his breath when the heroine is in danger, as he helps Babe Ruth swing his bat, so in subtler form the reader enters into the news. In order that he shall enter he must find a familiar foothold in the story, and this is supplied to him by the use of stereotypes. They tell him that if an association of plumbers is called a "combine" it is appropriate to develop his hostility; if it is called a "group of leading business men" the cue is for a favorable reaction.

It is in a combination of these elements that the power to create opinion resides. Editorials reinforce.

This is how the game works. The journalist knows that most people are too busy in their daily lives to take their time to learn about the association of plumbers. This lack of education is key to their power to manipulate, so the journalist can insert faulty education in its place and then use it against the reader. That's exactly what he says. The journalist educates the reader that the plumbers are a "combine", if the journalist wants the reader to hate the plumbers. That is a "subtle and highly pervasive influence which has created and will now maintain this stereotype".

The reader's preconception of the bad plumbers governs deeply the whole process of perception.

Editorials reinforce.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Is Walter Lippmann really the "Father of Modern Journalism"? Part 2

As a continuation of my prior post, I want to point out some more things I have found. This will further highlight the importance of Lippmann's ideas among the journalistic world - not because I say they're important, but because journalists themselves say or write it.

One of the things I mentioned in the prior post was that the Harvard School of Journalism has a monument to Walter Lippmann, right on their campus. That's a fairly profound statement on their behalf of what their view of Lippmann was. They also proudly proclaim it:

That’s our home, Lippmann House, above in less frozen days.

Here is what the monument to Walter Lippmann looks like:

And again, you can see that the Lippmann House is where they conduct internships:

You’ll be based here in Cambridge, in our office at Lippmann House

You could also find out what they think just by searching their websites for him. Such as this article: "A spotlight, not a truth machine", which says right along the top as a sub heading:

"The answer will be what it has been since Walter Lippmann got it right 90 years ago."

Or this article: "Questioning Walter Lippmann and our methods of journalism training". These are the things that journalism schools are teaching, and journalism students are reading. There are many other references to Lippmann which are not nearly as specific. Often times, you will just see an off-hand comment which mentions Lippmann and nothing more.

If you notice in that last link, one of the big laments is the lack of journalism schools. On the surface, this appears to be a circular argument and somewhat counter to what is written, because its no secret that these institutions of higher learning teach everybody regardless of their field to be activist. So while on the website it looks like they are only training based on Lippmann's more "honorable" quotes, we can verify the roots of activist thought just by using the first link as well as Lippmann's own writing. In the first link, it says this:

The answer will be what it has been since Walter Lippmann got it right 90 years ago: Journalism is not a truth machine but a searchlight that picks up aspects of reality that obtrude upon the world at a moment when the searchlight hits upon that location.


People like me will remind data enthusiasts that journalism is about stories, not data. Data are vital resources, but someone has to apply intelligence, art, and ardor to them to make them a matter of public interest.

As I explained here and here (using pages 355 and 358), Lippmann says the same thing almost word for word. Once you know the history of journalism, you will know that this set of talking points is actually their green card to propaganda:

1: News and truth are not the same thing.

2: There is a very small body of exact knowledge, which it requires no outstanding ability or training to deal with.

3: The rest is in the journalist's own discretion.

Its not just that they think that journalism is about stories("the rest") over data("truth"), its the stories - "the rest" - where they have their source of power because "The rest is in the journalist's own discretion". Right from his own mouth. Page 358.

It all fits. The truth is hidden right there in front of you, right in plain sight. Simply because nobody is actually reading these things and seeing what's actually contained there, these people can get away almost literally with bloody murder. That's the Manufacture of Consent. (which is another Lippmann masterpiece. See page 75)

There's also this, from the American Journalism Review titled "Lippmann On the New Objective Journalism", which reads very similar to the second link from the Nieman Foundation(Harvard).

As you can see, Walter Lippmann is the hero of the story. So if Walter Lippmann is not the "Father of Modern Journalism" but rather he is the "Hero of Modern Journalism", then it is to a degree a distinction without a difference. Either way it does highlight how important he is to the whole establishment.

And no, I am not using a broad brush to paint. Again from page 355: (Lippmann is writing about he the reader, and the user of stereotype words, the writer)

In order that he shall enter he must find a familiar foothold in the story, and this is supplied to him by the use of stereotypes. They tell him that if an association of plumbers is called a "combine" it is appropriate to develop his hostility; if it is called a "group of leading business men" the cue is for a favorable reaction.

It is in a combination of these elements that the power to create opinion resides. Editorials reinforce.

So what did I just do here? I just used a quote from 1920 to describe to you the New York Times in 2014. That's exactly what they do - key words in the news strategically placed, and the editorials repeat it ad-nauseam.

All of them, they have all been trained to be just like Walter Lippmann. They're all Lippmann activists and/or acolytes. This is what journalism schools are teaching, and its what we are watching in real-time.

You can also find some very interesting things if you poke around the website for Columbia's Journalism department. For example, this paper titled The "Lippmann-Dewey Debate" and the Invention of Walter Lippmann as an Anti-Democrat 1986-1996. In this paper, you will find the following:

In this article, Carey asserts that Lippmann's Public Opinion is "the founding book of modern journalism" (Carey, 1987, p. 6), although with greater reason he had called it in 1982 "the founding book in American media studies" (Carey, 19

He's talking about James Carey's 1982 article in The Center Magazine titled "The Press and the Public Discourse," as well as Carey's earlier article "Mass Media: The Critical View." Unfortunately, neither are available online for us to examine, but these are pretty specific phrases being used here - that and its not like others have not used similar wording, see my prior entry.

So what of this founding document of modern journalism, written by what would have to be its father, Walter Lippmann? If "Public Opinion" is the "founding document", does that make it journalism's "Constitution"? In a sense, I think all of us can answer that question with a "yes".

You can download the transcript here.

Or, you can listen to the audiobook of it here.

Lets stop letting these journalists get away with it. Let's use their own history against them. What possible defense could they have?

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New audiobook release: Public Opinion, by Walter Lippmann

"You want to know why journalism doesn't get it? You know why journalism isn't on top of it? Because they have read Walter Lippmann." - Glenn Beck, May 27th, 2010.

The implication here is that if you want to understand the foundational corruption of the institution of journalism, you should be reading Walter Lippmann. They are.

Now you have a new option on the table. Listen to it.

This book consists of 28 chapters, all 28 are now freely downloadable. More than anything else, this is what the progressingamerica project is all about. There is so much work to do with understanding progressivism. This isn't like communism. If you want to understand communism then all you have to do is go read Marx's manifesto. There you go, with one book you have solved the problem. Sure, you could read more, read much more. But you don't have to. Same thing for fascism. Go read the Fascist Manifesto or Mein Kampf. There you go, you have it covered.

But there is no progressive manifesto in the same sense. In order to understand progressivism, you need to read John Dewey to learn about it from the educational point of view, you need to read Woodrow Wilson to understand it from the administration point of view, and to understand progressivism and journalism, Walter Lippmann is your go-to guy. John Dewey is widely considered the Father of Modern Education; Lippmann is the Father of Modern Journalism. With progressivism being such a large topic to tackle, audiobooks should make it easier to consume.

What makes it worse, is that the book Public Opinion is not an easy read. Large portions of it are couched in the view from World War 1, which is the era in which the book was written. However, some of the undeniable aspects of the book appear when he starts explaining how to use key words in order to manipulate public opinion and even how to create it. From there, the whole book gets placed in context for what it really is. I know I may be asking a lot, but I do recommend a second reading(or listening) of this once you have reached the end. I make it a point to constantly read the progressives' own writings, and as you can see in that last link I did not spot nearly as much out of this book as is there.

This book Public Opinion is a blueprint for veiled public manipulation - veiled under the disguise of "objectivity". Like all blueprints, it takes time to fully understand how to read them.