'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

How John Dewey is Like Hitler 

Some rightwing weekly called "Human Events Online" has posted a list of the ten most harmful books of the 19th and 20th century, which unfortunately isn't satire. I say "unfortunately" because had it been satire it would have been the best fake web site I've seen since I got taken by the creation science fair (a site no longer online, alas, but its ghost is still in the Google cache sans photos.)

Anyway, if you're curious about why John Dewey is on the same list as Hitler, it's because, see, John Dewey led straight to fornication in the White House,

John Dewey, who lived from 1859 until 1952, was a "progressive" philosopher and leading advocate for secular humanism in American life, who taught at the University of Chicago and at Columbia. He signed the Humanist Manifesto and rejected traditional religion and moral absolutes. In Democracy and Education, in pompous and opaque prose, he disparaged schooling that focused on traditional character development and endowing children with hard knowledge, and encouraged the teaching of thinking "skills" instead. His views had great influence on the direction of American education--particularly in public schools--and helped nurture the Clinton generation.

which makes me think, you know, "Human Events Online" actually sounds like a hotbed of secular humanism ...Maybe they should call themselves something like Human Events -- In Which by Human We Mean "Temple of God" That Exists In a World of Moral Absolutes -- Online.

Also I liked their blurb of Das Kapital:

Das Kapital forces the round peg of capitalism into the square hole of Marx's materialistic theory of history, portraying capitalism as an ugly phase in the development of human society in which capitalists inevitably and amorally exploit labor by paying the cheapest possible wages to earn the greatest possible profits. Marx theorized that the inevitable eventual outcome would be global proletarian revolution. He could not have predicted 21st Century America: a free, affluent society based on capitalism and representative government that people the world over envy and seek to emulate.

First off, is Human Events Online arguing that capitalists don't seek to maximize profits by paying the lowest possible wages they can? Those reds! -- someone alert their shareholders!

And about America, envy of the world ...I always admire this sort of pleasant schizophrenia on the right. The right lives in a universe in which America is in such a dire situation that it needs to invade sovereign nations as it pleases, wreck countries, establish dozens of foreign military bases, indefinitely detain anyone it deems a threat without due process or oversight in order to ensure its very survival, and it also lives in a universe in which America is envied and emulated by everyone everywhere.

I think Latin Americans, particularly Venezuelans, are pretty lucky that America is so busy being emulated and envied by Iraqis that it hasn't been paying much attention to the extent to which its southern neighbors have been envying and emulating Cuba lately ... but I digress.

To the extent that this self-adulation about America's noble opulence corresponds to reality, it's important to note that the USA is not the only capitalist nation on the earth. Could Marx not have predicted 21st century capitalist Indonesia or 21st century capitalist Haiti or the 21st Century capitalist Dominican Republic, etc., etc.? And I guess the fact that America doesn't look like Indonesia has nothing to do with the rights that were won by leftists, socialists, anarchists, and reds all those years ago: child labor laws, workplace safety laws, forty hour work weeks, the notion of a weekend, the social safety net, etc. -- each of which, of course, capitalists fought desperately against.

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