Those who formulate the ideologies for primary and secondary education in America are almost universally anti-intellectual. They think of schools primarily as institutions devoted to socializing rather than teaching. The young need to be “prepared for real life,” to be encouraged to become creative, inclusive, and empathetic. When attention turns to academic topics, emphasis falls on technique (“engaging the students”) rather than content.
Another great reason for a home- or alternate-school education in The Classics, where empty technique doesn’t drown out wisdom, from Jacque Barzun 53 years ago (and truer today than then).
Because these words were written in the late 1950s, they help us see that the 1960s was not the result of a youth movement. It is best understood as an abdication of the elders, a renunciation of responsibility by the adults. The Bourgeois Era ended because its intellectual project crumbled. The guardians of Western culture determined that they were custodians of inhumanity.
I don’t intend for a second to excuse the Christian-haters who are working on gags and muzzles if not scaffolds, but take courage: it has been much, much worse; it probably will be worse again; and then it will get better again (one way or another).
Rome couldn’t kill the Church. The sublime French Revolution couldn’t kill it. The Communists couldn’t kill it. If they get too nasty with it here, it will pop up over there. If nothing else, Africa will send Christian missionaries over to re-evangelize us.
This, too, cheers me.
Like the human-rights movement, democracy promotion is a radical project of social and political transformation whose adherents will not or cannot acknowledge either the ideological or the revolutionary character of their enterprise. In this, democracy promotion should be understood as a subset of contemporary liberalism—the only major modern ideology that denies it is an ideology at all …
There is irony in this proud assertion of openness to new ideas and dismissal of “closed,” undemocratic societies on the grounds that they, as Soros once complained, “claim to be in possession of the ultimate truth.” After all, this contemporary Western democratic-capitalist vision, of which the democracy-promotion and human-rights movements should be viewed as subsets, also claims a monopoly on social, ethical and political truth. Soros has reminisced that he knew communism was false because “it was a dogma.” But what could be more Manichaean and philosophically primitive than the blanket division of the entire world into open and closed societies? And what could be more dogmatic than Soros’s audacious claim that communism’s defeat “laid the groundwork for a universal open society”? For that matter, what could be more closed-minded than Fukuyama’s assertion that history’s only important remaining questions were how quickly and under what circumstances universalization of Western liberal capitalism would take place?
* * * * *