April 05, 2012 "Information
Clearing House" --- Public education
is under attack around the world, and in response, student protests
have recently been held in Britain, Canada, Chile, Taiwan and
California is also a battleground. The Los Angeles Times reports on
another chapter in the campaign to destroy what had been the
greatest public higher education system in the world: "California
State University officials announced plans to freeze enrollment next
spring at most campuses and to wait-list all applicants the
following fall pending the outcome of a proposed tax initiative on
the November ballot."
Similar defunding is under way nationwide. "In most states," The New
York Times reports, "it is now tuition payments, not state
appropriations, that cover most of the budget," so that "the era of
affordable four-year public universities, heavily subsidized by the
state, may be over."
Community colleges increasingly face similar prospects – and the
shortfalls extend to grades K-12.
"There has been a shift from the belief that we as a nation benefit
from higher education, to a belief that it's the people receiving
the education who primarily benefit and so they should foot the
bill," concludes Ronald G. Ehrenberg, a trustee of the State
University system of New York and director of the Cornell Higher
Education Research Institute.
A more accurate description, I think, is "Failure by Design," the
title of a recent study by the Economic Policy Institute, which has
long been a major source of reliable information and analysis on the
state of the economy.
The EPI study reviews the consequences of the transformation of the
economy a generation ago from domestic production to
financialization and offshoring. By design; there have always been
One primary justification for the design is what Nobel laureate
Joseph Stiglitz called the "religion" that "markets lead to
efficient outcomes," which was recently dealt yet another crushing
blow by the collapse of the housing bubble that was ignored on
doctrinal grounds, triggering the current financial crisis.
Claims are also made about the alleged benefits of the radical
expansion of financial institutions since the 1970s. A more
convincing description was provided by Martin Wolf, senior economic
correspondent for The Financial Times: "An out-of-control financial
sector is eating out the modern market economy from inside, just as
the larva of the spider wasp eats out the host in which it has been
The EPI study observes that the "Failure of Design" is class-based.
For the designers, it has been a stunning success, as revealed by
the astonishing concentration of wealth in the top 1 percent, in
fact the top 0.1 percent, while the majority has been reduced to
virtual stagnation or decline.
In short, when they have the opportunity, "the Masters of Mankind"
pursue their "vile maxim" [ all for ourselves and nothing for other
people," as Adam Smith explained long ago.
Mass public education is one of the great achievements of American
society. It has had many dimensions. One purpose was to prepare
independent farmers for life as wage laborers who would tolerate
what they regarded as virtual slavery.
The coercive element did not pass without notice. Ralph Waldo
Emerson observed that political leaders call for popular education
because they fear that "This country is filling up with thousands
and millions of voters, and you must educate them to keep them from
our throats." But educated the right way: Limit their perspectives
and understanding, discourage free and independent thought, and
train them for obedience.
The "vile maxim" and its implementation have regularly called forth
resistance, which in turn evokes the same fears among the elite.
Forty years ago there was deep concern that the population was
breaking free of apathy and obedience.
At the liberal internationalist extreme, the Trilateral Commission –
the nongovernmental policy group from which the Carter
Administration was largely drawn – issued stern warnings in 1975
that there is too much democracy, in part due to the failures of the
institutions responsible for "the indoctrination of the young." On
the right, an important 1971 memorandum by Lewis Powell, directed to
the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the main business lobby, wailed that
radicals were taking over everything – universities, media,
government, etc. – and called on the business community to use its
economic power to reverse the attack on our prized way of life –
which he knew well. As a lobbyist for the tobacco industry, he was
quite familiar with the workings of the nanny state for the rich
that he called "the free market."
Since then, many measures have been taken to restore discipline. One
is the crusade for privatization – placing control in reliable
Another is sharp increases in tuition, up nearly 600 percent since
1980. These produce a higher education system with "far more
economic stratification than is true of any other country,"
according to Jane Wellman, former director of the Delta Cost
Project, which monitors these issues. Tuition increases trap
students into long-term debt and hence subordination to private
Justifications are offered on economic grounds, but are singularly
unconvincing. In countries rich to poor, including Mexico next-door,
tuition remains free or nominal. That was true as well in the United
States itself when it was a much poorer country after World War II
and huge numbers of students were able to enter college under the GI
bill – a factor in uniquely high economic growth, even putting aside
the significance in improving lives.
Another device is the corporatization of the universities. That has
led to a dramatic increase in layers of administration, often
professional instead of drawn from the faculty as before; and to
imposition of a business culture of "efficiency" – an ideological
notion, not just an economic one.
One illustration is the decision of state colleges to eliminate
programs in nursing, engineering and computer science, because they
are costly – and happen to be the professions where there is a labor
shortage, as The New York Times reports. The decision harms the
society but conforms to the business ideology of short-term gain
without regard for human consequences, in accord with the vile
Some of the most insidious effects are on teaching and monitoring.
The Enlightenment ideal of education was captured in the image of
education as laying down a string that students follow in their own
ways, developing their creativity and independence of mind.
The alternative, to be rejected, is the image of pouring water into
a vessel – and a very leaky one, as all of us know from experience.
The latter approach includes teaching to test and other mechanisms
that destroy students' interest and seek to fit them into a mold,
easily controlled. All too familiar today.
is a form of communication that is aimed at influencing the attitude of
a community toward some cause or position so as to benefit oneself. As
opposed to impartially providing information, propaganda, in its most
basic sense, presents information primarily to influence an audience.
Propaganda is often biased, with facts selectively presented (thus
possibly lying by omission) to encourage a particular synthesis, or uses
loaded messages to produce an emotional rather than rational response
to the information presented. The desired result is a change of the
attitude toward the subject in the target audience to further a
political, or other type of agenda. Propaganda can be used as a form of
"There's no doubt that one of the major issues
of twentieth century history, surely in the US, is corporate
propaganda.... Its goal from the beginning, perfectly openly and
consciously, was to 'control the public mind,' as they put it. The
reason was that the public mind was seen as the greatest threat to the
"The man who is possessed of wealth,
who lolls on his sofa or rolls in his carriage, cannot judge the wants
or feelings of the day-laborer. The government we mean to erect is
intended to last for ages. The landed interest, at present, is
prevalent; but in process of time, when we approximate to the states and
kingdoms of Europe, when the number of landholders shall be
comparatively small, through the various means of trade and
manufactures, will not the landed interest be overbalanced in future
elections, and unless wisely provided against, what will become of your
government? In England, at this day, if elections were open to all
classes of people, the property of landed proprietors would be insecure.
An agrarian law would soon take place. If these observations be just,
our government ought to secure the permanent interests of the country
against innovation. Landholders ought to have a share in the government,
to support these invaluable interests, and to balance and check the
other. They ought to be so constituted as to protect the minority of the
opulent against the majority. The senate, therefore, ought to be this
body; and to answer these purposes, they ought to have permanency and
stability." - James Madison.
Statement (1787-06-26) as quoted in Notes of the Secret Debates of the Federal Convention of 1787
Consent Without Consent excerpted from the book Profit Over People by Noam Chomsky Seven Stories Press, 1999
... Over the years, popular forces have sought to gain a larger share in managing their affairs, with some success alongside many defeats. Meanwhile an instructive body of thought has been developed to justify elite resistance to democracy. Those who hope to understand the past and shape the future would do well to pay careful attention not only to the practice but also to the doctrinal framework that supports it. The issues were addressed 250 years ago by David Hume in classic work. Hume was intrigued by "the easiness with which the many are governed by the few, the implicit submission with which men resign" their fate to their rulers. This he found surprising, because "force is always on the side of the governed." If people would realize that, they would rise up and overthrow the masters. He concluded that government is founded on control of opinion, a principle that "extends to the most despotic and most military governments, as well as to the most free and most popular." Hume surely underestimated the effectiveness of brute force. A more accurate version is that the more "free and popular" a government, the more it becomes necessary to rely on control of opinion to ensure submission to the rulers. That people must submit is taken for granted pretty much across the spectrum. In a democracy, the governed have the right to consent, but nothing more than that. In the terminology of modern progressive thought, the population may be "spectators," but not "participants," apart from occasional choices among leaders representing authentic power. That is the political arena. The general population must be excluded entirely from the economic arena, where what happens in the society is largely determined. Here the public is to have no role, according to prevailing democratic theory. *** ... The founding fathers repeated the sentiments of the British "men of best quality" in almost the same words. As one put it "When I mention the public, I mean to include only the rational part of it.The ignorant and vulgar are as unfit to judge of the modes [of government], as they are unable to manage [its] reins." The people are a "great beast" that must be tamed, his colleague Alexander Hamilton declared. Rebellious and independent farmers had to be taught, sometimes by force, that the ideals of the revolutionary pamphlets were not to be taken too seriously. The common people were not to be represented by countrymen like themselves, who know the people's sores, but by gentry, merchants, lawyers, and other "responsible men" who could be trusted to defend privilege. The reigning doctrine was expressed clearly by the President of the Continental Congress and first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, John Jay "The people who own the country ought to govern it." One issue remained to be settled Who owns the country? The question was answered by the rise of private corporations and the structures devised to protect and support them, though it remains a difficult task to compel the public to keep to the spectator role. The United States is surely the most important case to study if we hope to understand the world of today and tomorrow. One reason is its incomparable power. Another is its stable democratic institutions. Furthermore, the United States was as close to a tabula rasa as one can find. America can be "as happy as she pleases," Thomas Paine remarked in 1776 "she has a blank sheet to write upon." The indigenous societies were largely eliminated. The U.S. also has little residue of earlier European structures, one reason for the relative weakness of the social contract and of support systems, which often had their roots in pre-capitalist institutions. And to an unusual extent, the sociopolitical order was consciously designed. In studying history, one cannot construct experiments, but the United States is as close to the "ideal case" of state capitalist democracy as can be found. The main designer, furthermore, was an astute political thinker James Madison, whose views largely prevailed. In the debates on the Constitution, Madison pointed out that if elections in England" were open to all classes of people, the property of landed proprietors would be insecure. An agrarian law would soon take place," giving land to the landless. The Constitutional system must be designed to prevent such injustice and "secure the permanent interests of the country," which are property rights. Among Madisonian scholars, there is a consensus that "the Constitution was intrinsically an aristocratic document designed to check the democratic tendencies of the period," delivering power to a "better sort" of people and excluding those who were not rich, well born, or prominent from exercising political power (Lance Banning). The primary responsibility of government is "to protect the minority of the opulent against the majority," Madison declared. That has been the guiding principle of the democratic system from its origins until today. In public discussion, Madison spoke of the rights of minorities in general, but it is quite clear that he had a particular minority in mind "the minority of the opulent." Modern political theory stresses Madison's belief that "in a just and a free government the rights both of property and of persons ought to be effectually guarded." But in this case too it is useful to look at the doctrine more carefully. There are no rights of property, only rights to property that is, rights of persons with property. Perhaps I have a right to my car, but my car has no rights. The right to property also differs from others in that one person's possession of property deprives another of that right if I own my car, you do not; but in a just and free society, my freedom of speech would not limit yours. The Madisonian principle, then, is that government must guard the rights of persons generally, but must provide special and additional guarantees for the rights of one class of persons, property owners. Madison foresaw that the threat of democracy was likely to become more severe over time because of the increase in "the proportion of those who will labor under all the hardships of life, and secretly sigh for a more equal distribution of its blessings." They might gain influence, Madison feared. He was concerned by the "symptoms of a leveling spirit" that had already appeared, and warned "of the future danger" if the right to vote would place "power over property in hands without a share in it." Those "without property, or the hope of acquiring it, cannot be expected to sympathize sufficiently with its rights," Madison explained. His solution was to keep political power in the hands of those who "come from and represent the wealth of the nation," the "more capable set of men," with the general public fragmented and disorganized... *** ...The National Security States installed and backed by the United States are discussed in an important book by Lars Schoultz, one of the leading Latin American scholars. Their goal, in his words, was "to destroy permanently a perceived threat to the existing structure of socioeconomic privilege by eliminating the political participation of the numerical majority," Hamilton's "great beast." The goal is basically the same in the home society, though the means are different. The pattern continues today. The champion human rights violator in the hemisphere is Colombia, also the leading recipient of U.S. military aid and training in recent years. The pretext is the "drug war," but that is "a myth," as regularly reported by major human rights groups, the church, and other who have investigated the shocking record of atrocities and the close links between the narcotraffickers, landowners, the military, and their paramilitary associates. State terror has devastated popular organizations and virtually destroyed the one independent political party by assassination of thousands of activists, including presidential candidates, mayors, and others. Nonetheless Colombia is hailed as a stable democracy, revealing again what is meant by "democracy." A particularly instructive example is the reaction to Guatemala's first experiment with democracy. In this case the secret record is partially available, so we know a good deal about the thinking that guided policy. In 1952 the CIA warned that the "radical and nationalist policies" of the government had gained "the support or acquiescence of almost all Guatemalans." The government was "mobilizing the hitherto politically inert peasantry" and creating "mass support for the present regime" by means of labor organization, agrarian reform, and other policies "identified with the revolution of 1944," which had aroused "a strong national movement to free Guatemala from the military dictatorship, social backwardness, and 'economic colonialism' which had been the pattern of the past." The policies of the democratic government "inspired the loyalty and conformed to the self-interest of most politically conscious Guatemalans." State Department intelligence reported that the democratic leadership "insisted upon the maintenance of an open political system," thus allowing Communists to "expand their operations and appeal effectively to various sectors of the population." These deficiencies of democracy were cured by the military coup of 1954 and the reign of terror since, always with large-scale U.S. support. The problem of securing" consent" has also arisen with international institutions. At first, the United Nations was a reliable instrument of U.S. policy, and was greatly admired. But decolonization brought about what came to be called "the tyranny of the majority." From the 1 960s Washington took the lead in vetoing Security Council resolutions (with Britain second, and France a distant third), and voting alone or with a few client states against General Assembly resolutions. The UN fell into disfavor, and sober articles began to appear asking why the world was "opposing the United States"; that the United States might be opposing the world is a thought too bizarre to be entertained. U.S. relations with the World Court and other international institutions have undergone a similar evolution... *** ... doctrines ... have been crafted to impose the modern forms of political democracy. They are expressed quite accurately in an important manual of the public relations industry by one of its leading figures, Edward Bernays. He opens by observing that the conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. To carry out this essential task the intelligent minorities must make use of propaganda continuously and systematically," because they alone "understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses" and can "pull the wires which control the public mind. Therefore, our "society has consented to permit free competition to be organized by leadership and propaganda," another case of "consent without consent." Propaganda provides the leadership with a mechanism "to mold the mind of the masses" so that "they will throw their newly gained strength in the desired direction." The leadership can "regiment the public mind every bit as much as an army regiments the bodies of its soldiers." This process of "engineering consent" is the very "essence of the democratic process," Bernays wrote ... *** http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Chomsky/ConsentPOP_Chom.html
"The Mohawk Valley formula is a plan for strikebreaking purportedly
written by the president of the Remington Rand company James Rand, Jr.
around the time of the Remington Rand strike at Ilion, New York.
The plan includes discrediting union leaders, frightening the public
with the threat of violence, using local police and vigilantes to
intimidate strikers, forming puppet associations of "loyal employees" to
influence public debate, fortifying workplaces, employing large numbers
of replacement workers, and threatening to close the plant if work is
"Elements of the formula - The following is the text of the Mohawk Valley formula as quoted in the labor press:
1.When a strike is threatened, label the union leaders as
"agitators" to discredit them with the public and their own followers.
Conduct balloting under the foremen to ascertain the strength of the
union and to make possible misrepresentation of the strikers as a small
minority. Exert economic pressure through threats to move the plant,
align bankers, real estate owners and businessmen into a "Citizens'
2.Raise high the banner of "law and order", thereby causing the
community to mass legal and police weapons against imagined violence and
to forget that employees have equal rights with others in the
3.Call a "mass meeting" to coordinate public sentiment against the strike and strengthen the Citizens' Committee.
4.Form a large police force to intimidate the strikers and exert a
psychological effect. Utilize local police, state police, vigilantes and
special deputies chosen, if possible, from other neighborhoods.
5.Convince the strikers their cause is hopeless with a
"back-to-work" movement by a puppet association of so-called "loyal
employees" secretly organized by the employer.
6.When enough applications are on hand, set a date for opening the
plant by having such opening requested by the puppet "back-to-work"
7.Stage the "opening" theatrically by throwing open the gates and
having the employees march in a mass protected by squads of armed police
so as to dramatize and exaggerate the opening and heighten the
8.Demoralize the strikers with a continuing show of force. If
necessary turn the locality into a warlike camp and barricade it from
the outside world.
9.Close the publicity barrage on the theme that the plant is in full
operation and the strikers are merely a minority attempting to
interfere with the right to work. With this, the campaign is over—-the
employer has broken the strike.
A similar, although more nuanced and longer, version was published in The Nation in 1937."
"The point of getting power down to the state is so that any business even middle size business, can make sure that the money goes into their pockets. Not in the pockets of poor people. It's trickier to do it at the federal level."
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