Wednesday, April 14, 2004

The Quotable Bush

The Rev. Bush last night: "My job as the President is to lead this nation into making the world a better place. And that's exactly what we're doing." Who would have known that when Bush rejected "nation building" during his campaign for the presidency, what he really had in mind was remaking and shaping-up the whole world? -- not exactly one of the powers delegated to the federal executive.

Sunday, April 11, 2004

"State Education: A Help or Hindrance?"

by Auberon Herbert (1880)

-- excerpts:

"At present we have one system of education applied to the whole of
England. The local character of school boards deceives us, and makes us
believe that some variety and freedom of action exist. In reality they have
only the power to apply an established system. They must use the same class
of teachers; they must submit to the same inspectors; the children must be
prepared for the same examination, and pass in the same standards. There
are some slight differences, but they are few and of little value. Now, if
any one wishes to realise the full mischief which this uniformity works,
let him think of what would be the result of a uniform method being
established everywhere -- in religion, art, science, or any trade or
profession. Let him remember that canon of Mr. Herbert Spencer, so pregnant
with meaning, that progress is difference. Therefore, if you desire
progress, you must not make it difficult for men to think and act
differently; you must not dull their senses with routine or stamp their
imagination with the official pattern of some great department. If you
desire progress, you must remove all obstacles that impede for each man the
exercise of his reasoning and imaginative faculties in his own way...

A great department must be by the law of its own condition unfavourable to
new ideas. To make a change it must make a revolution. Our Education
Department, for example, cannot issue an edict which applies to certain
school boards and not to others.... Follow still further the awkward
attempts of a department at improvement. Influenced by long-continued
public pressure, or moved by some new mind that has taken direction of it,
it determines to introduce a change, and it issues in consequence a
wholesale edict to its thousands of subordinates. But the conditions
required for the successful application of a new idea are, that it should
be only tentatively applied; that it should be applied by those persons who
have some mental or moral affinity with it, and who in applying it, work
intelligently and with the grain, not mechanically and against the

If only one wishes to realise why officialism is what it is, let him
imagine himself at the centre of some great department which directs an
operation in every part of the country. Whoever he was he must become
possessed with the idea of perfect regularity and uniformity. His waking
and sleeping thought would be the desire that each wheel should perform in
its own place exactly the same rotation in the same time. His life would
simply become intolerable to him if any of his thousands of wheels began to
show signs of consciousness, and to make independent movements of their

But suppose that a man of fresh mind and personal energy were to be placed
at the head of our Education Department who perceived the mischievous
effect of uniformity, could not this official tendency be counteracted? It
might for a short space of time, just as some muscles of a strong man can
for some hours defeat the pull of gravitation, but gravitation wins in the
end. Such changes would only be spasmodic; they would not be the natural
outcome of the system, and therefore could not last. Moreover, for those
who understand the value of liberty and of responsibility, it is needless
to point out how utterly false the system must be which makes the nation
depend upon the intelligence of a minister, and not upon the free movement
of the different minds within itself....

From boyhood to manhood the teacher himself is undergoing examinations; for
the rest of his life he is reproducing on others what he himself has gone
through. It is needless to say, that the higher aims of the teacher,
methods of arousing the imagination and developing the reasoning powers,
which only bear fruit slowly and cannot be tested by a yearly examination
of an inspector -- whose fly will be waiting at the school door during the
few hours at the disposal of himself or his subordinate -- new attempts to
connect the meaning of what is being learned with life itself, and to
create an interest in work for work's own sake instead of the inspector's
sake, ... all these things must be laid aside as subordinate to the one
great aim of driving large batches successfully through the standards and
making large hauls of public money...

And now, leaving much unsaid, I must ask what practical steps should be
taken by those workmen who suspect that state education is but a part of
that coercive drill which one half the human race delights to inflict upon
the other half. First of all get rid of compulsion. It has been made the
instrument of endless petty persecutions. It is fatal to the free growth of
an intelligent love of education; a true respect of man for man; for
each man's right to judge what is morally best for himself and for those
entrusted to him. It is an attempt to make one of those shortcuts to
progress which end by making the goal recede from us.

...It is a copy of a continental institution, taken from a nation that,
living under a paternal government, has not yet learned to spell the
letters of the word *liberty*. The example of Germany and its highly
organised state education is not alluring. ... Where you subject people to
strong official restraint, you seem fated to produce on the one side
rigidity of thought and pedantry of feeling, on the other side those
violent schemes against the possessions and the personal rights of the rich
which we call socialism. Careful respect for the rights of others, vigorous
and consistent defence of one's own rights, a deeply rooted love of freedom
in thought, word, and action -- these things are simply impossible wherever
you entrust great powers to a government, and allow it to use them not
simply within a sphere of strictly defined rights, but as a supreme judge
of what the momentary convenience requires.

...It is always difficult to introduce freedom into a system that is
founded on authority and officialism."

Excerpts from "State Education: A Help or Hindrance?" *Fortnightly Review*,
1880; in *The Right and Wrong of Compulsion by the State, and other essays*
by Auberon Herbert, Copyright (c) 1978 by Liberty Fund Inc., Indianapolis,
Indiana. ISBN 0-913966-42-8
D.A. Could Be Disbarred Over Drug Prosecutions

This is certainly novel. I thought undercover cops were trained to lie.
Pre-9/11 doings are coming to light

Jim Pinkerton writes: "If you knew that President Franklin D. Roosevelt had received a memo a month before Pearl Harbor entitled, "Japanese Determined to Attack the United States in the Pacific," and that he had done nothing about that information, would that knowledge change your perception of FDR as a wise war leader?

Roosevelt received no such memo, of course, but President George W. Bush got a blunt warning five weeks before 9/11 and he did little or nothing. He even presided over a stand- down in preparations, concentrating on other concerns."

Of course FDR could have written the Peal Harbor memo to himself, as he was determined to bully the Japanese into attacking U.S. bases somewhere in the Pacific.