Dumbing Us Down, the hidden curriculum in compulsory schooling
by: John Taylor Gatto, 1992
"School as it was built is an essential support system for a model of social engineering that condemns most people to be subordinate stones in a pyramid that narrows as it ascends to a terminal of control. School is an artifice that makes such a pyramidical social order seem inevitable, although such a premise is a fundamental betrayal of the American Revolution... The current debate about whether we should have a national curriculum is phony. We already have a national curriculum... such a curriculum produces physical, moral and intellectual paralysis..." (p.14-15)
"According to [Bertrand] Russell, mass schooling produced a recognizably American student; anti-intellectual, superstitious, lacking self-confidence, and with less of what Russell called 'inner freedom' than his or her counterpart in any other nation he knew of, past or present. These schooled children became citizens, he said, with a thin 'mass character' holding excellence and aesthetics equally in contempt, inadequate to the personal crises in their lives." (p.78)
"Monopoly schooling is the major cause of our loss of national and individual identity. It has institutionalized the division of social classes and acted as an agent of caste--repugnant to our founding myths and to the reality or our founding..." (p.100)
John Taylor Gatto is an award winning teacher who taught in the New York City Public School system for 26 years before he resigned as a method of protest. He later joined the Albany Free School, where he implemented his system of education with great success. Mr. Gatto has found that independent study, community service, large doses of solitude engages and promotes free thought.
In this short book he expounds his theory that the current state of American education stamps out self-knowledge, curiosity, and instead produces mass conformity. In such a system children learn to merely obey orders and become functioning cogs in the industrial machinery of society.
Crossing the Rubicon
by: Michael Ruppert, 2004
Michael Ruppert, a former undercover policeman, has researched the events of 9-11 and in this book presents the evidence for a massive conspiracy, that reaches into the Oval Office. Ruppert suggests that 'Operation Northwoods' was put into effect to rationalize a war on terror which was manufactured by U.S. government officials. Producing government documents, Ruppert lays bare the real possibility that our own government and its officials, including then Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, were involved. Ruppert also uncovers complicity by the Israeli and British governments in some of the events that led up to the tragedy.
'Crossing the Rubicon' is a detective story, that amid all the details is frightening to the bone. It cites Richard Cheney, the nation's Vice-President as the key player, behind the scenes, who orchestrated the 9-11 attacks. The documentation and Ruppert's conclusions are shocking yet plausible, and raise the very real prospect that America has experienced its own version of the Reichstag fire (which gave the Nazis the excuse to clamp down on civil liberties in Germany prior to WW II). If there is one book that you must read this year--this is the one.
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Current Events
Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace
by: Gore Vidal, 2002
Gore Vidal is an icon in American Letters. He is without doubt a giant of American literature. In biting satire and dry wit, with the polish of a master essayist, Vidal dissects for us the current state of affairs of American politics. 'Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace' is a compilation of essays that has a common thread--the loss of civil liberty and the rise of theocracy, and oligarchy. It also includes essays regarding the Timothy McVeigh case.
"...our rulers for more than half a century have made sure that we are never to be told the truth about anything that our government has done to other people, not to mention our own. That our ruling junta might have seriously provoked McVeigh and Osama was never dealt with. We consumers don't need to be told the why of anything. Certainly those of us who are in the why-business have a difficult time in getting through the corporate sponsored American media, so I thought it useful to describe here the various provocations on our side that drove both bin Laden and McVeigh to such terrible acts."
The Other America
by: Michael Harrington, 1976
America in the early 1960's was two nations, one affluent, where everything was possible, and another replete with misery, poverty, and social stagnation, perpetuating itself in a vicious cycle. The two Americas, were still with us one decade later after Johnson declared 'war on poverty' and is still with us today, perhaps more so than ever, given that Welfare has been 'reformed' to serve less and less people, and social security is on the verges of becoming ancient history--if George Bush has his way.
Harrington first described 'The Other America' and published his findings in 1962, the book shocked the nation including its young idealistic president who earnestly promised to rescue those caught in a vicious cycle of poverty. An Assassin stopped that from happening but JFK's ideas would later form the crux of Johnson's 'Great Society'. The attempt did reduce misery and poverty in America, but since Nixon was elected, poverty in America has been on an upward spiral.
I first met Michael Harrington one autumn day in 1979 as he delivered a lecture on the state of America at Rutgers University. He presented his ideas with a great sense of urgency and dynamism, and without excusing a perspective which he described as social democracy. I would later debate the ideas that Harrington proposed, with mainstream political science professors who labeled Harrington 'a socialist and a dreamer.' The criticism is a 'straw man argument'; destroy the messenger and you thereby destroy the argument, a rhetorical ploy often used in mainstream American politics. In logic, the straw man argument is a fallacy, in other words such an argument is nonsense. So Harrington's words and his vision, have stayed with me these many years, resounding in clarity. Perhaps his vision is a dream waiting to happen, akin to Martin Luther King's dream. Upon re-reading this book recently I am forced to recognize that this is a classic that still deserves to be read and 'intellectually digested.'
'The Other America' is a descriptive work, that cites statistics, examples, case histories 'ad nauseum', if anything, it established beyond doubt the existence, the misery of how many fellow Americans lived across the United States in the early 1960's. The book recites a pattern created by circumstances of poverty that cement a vicious cycle hard to escape. Harrington would later argue with equal fervor, and armed with facts and statistics, that America continued to struggle with these same circumstances in the 1970's and 1980's.
"...being poor is not one aspect of a person's life in this country; it is his life. Taken as a whole, poverty is a culture...the point is not to make them wards of the state. Rather, society must help them before they can help themselves." (p.171)
"...there is no realistic hope for the abolition of poverty in the United States until there is a vast social movement, a new period of political creativity. In times of slow change or of stalemate, it is always the poor who are expendable in the halls of Congress... it is much easier to catalogue the enemies of the poor than it is to recite their friends." (p.182)
"...it is obvious that these statistics represent an enormous, an unconscionable amount of human suffering in this land. They should be read with a sense of outrage. For until these facts shame us, until they stir us to action, the other America will continue to exist, a monstrous example of needless suffering in the most advanced society in the world." (p.202)
Reviewed by V.S.
Posted February 3, 2005
URL: www.thecitizenfsr.org SM 2000-2011
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