.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Mutualist Blog: Free Market Anti-Capitalism

To dissolve, submerge, and cause to disappear the political or governmental system in the economic system by reducing, simplifying, decentralizing and suppressing, one after another, all the wheels of this great machine, which is called the Government or the State. --Proudhon, General Idea of the Revolution

My Photo
Location: Northwest Arkansas, United States

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Another Publik Skool Atrocity

At Lew Rockwell, Linda Schrock Taylor describes her son's horrible experience in the Odyssey of the Mind program, supposedly designed to encourage creative thinking:

The children were put into small teams. Each team was given a small stack of papers – squares that had been cut from construction paper. The teams were instructed to build the highest tower possible. His team members put the thin pieces of paper on top of each other, making a tower about 1/8 inch high. They stared at it in confusion, unable to think of another way to stack the flat sheets. David began folding the pieces of paper into shapes, bending corners to make 'legs' and soon had a tall structure. When I picked him up following the auditions, he felt positive about his chances but shocked at the flat-thinking of his schoolmates.

David failed to win a spot on an OM team, while the flat-tower thinkers survived the cuts. When I requested feedback regarding the votes against David, I was told that he was not chosen because "He was not a team player."

There you have it: as good a description as any of the kinds of "human resources" the publik skools want to mold. You know, the sort of "team players" who kept juicing non-responsive subjects in the Milgram experiment, so long as an authority figure in a white coat told them to do it. If the slave factories let someone with non-"team player" traits slip through, they might later do something really "extreme," like taking a principled stand when they believe they're right. They might upset the processors of human raw material in some corporation or government agency by suddenly developing a voice: "Get your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty apes!"

Another incident is also quite instructive:

One day he arrived home upset and explained that he was "in trouble." When I asked what he had done wrong, he repeated the explanation that he had been given, "You are not supposed to trade." (Huh??) Right! He had taken his Pogs (toy pieces resembling the old milk bottle tops) to school then at recess he and another boy sat on a bench and "traded Pogs" since David had doubles of one color; the other boy had doubles of another. David's Pogs had been confiscated by the recess aide (who was also the librarian who would not let him check out chapter books) and the aide had informed him that she would keep the Pogs "until you tell your mother what you have done."

Engaging in trade? That's twenty years in a forced labor camp!

I believed that I already knew the underlying reason for such a school rule: if people understand and use their right to trade, exchanges will be done under the radar of the tax collectors. The State certainly does not want individual bartering to continue. If the State cannot stop American adults from exchanging goods and services "under the table" then the State's focus must switch to brainwashing the next generations into believing that they have no right to strike deals with consenting individuals, groups or companies.

She's right; the State does not want free people to participate in any kind of underground economy that isn't properly regulated (all for our own good, of course--pay no attention to the man behind the curtain). As an individualist anarchist, I'd add that they don't want us taking things like banking and currency into our own hands through mutual banks and LETS systems, or creating our own sick benefit societies outside the insurance cartel. Taking it even further, they don't want kids learning the habit of exchanging their labor directly with other producers, as equals, instead of relying on the wage system. Such trade undermines the central lesson of the publik skools: that all good things are bestowed by authority, as a reward for obedience.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The second Lew Rockwell link is broken.

April 20, 2005 10:33 PM  
Blogger Kevin Carson said...

Should be working now--thanks!

April 21, 2005 9:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, can you tell me six legislative proposals that you think would make the United States more of a Free Market Liberatarian sort of place? I get the ideas, but how would you practically promote them on a legislative level?

April 21, 2005 10:30 AM  
Blogger Kevin Carson said...

Hmmmm.... In no particular order:

1) eliminate all regulatory requirements for licensing and capitalization that impede the formation of the kind of mutual banks described by Benjamin Tucker and William Greene;

2) eliminate patents and copyrights, or scale them back as radically as is politically feasible;

3a) run all interstate highways on a user-fee basis, with the vast majority of funds coming from a weight-distance charge on big rigs;

3b) cut off all federal funds to airports, and let them be fund themselves entirely from user fees;

4) end all use of eminent domain;

5a) an end to the R&D tax credit and federal research funding;

5b) an end to all corporate income tax deductions like depreciation and interest on corporate debt, with the corporate income tax reduced to a flat rate low enough to be revenue neutral;

6) a general set of policies that let American investors overseas bear all the ordinary costs (as well as the political risks) of their investment. That means no more action by the CIA/SOA to prop up capital-friendly governments, no more World Bank loans to subsidize the infrastructure western-owned factories need to be profitable, no WTO enforcement of "intellectual property" [sic], no use of debt slavery by the World Bank/IMF to impose neoliberal policies, no guarantee of access to cheap oil, etc., etc.

Wow! When I started out, I thought I'd have trouble thinking up six off the top of my head.

April 21, 2005 2:36 PM  
Blogger shoes said...

probably the school doesnt want kids bringing in things to traded like yugi oh cards, pokemon cards and pogs (who still has pogs). if the school says no then dont bring them. its that easy. stick to the rules. cant he wait until he gets home. also three is more to that odessy of the mind team thing. why is it that everytime a kid doesnt make the team his parents think someone is against them. the kid wasnt smart enough so he didnt make the team...end of story.

April 22, 2005 4:57 PM  
Blogger Kevin Carson said...


It's interesting that you assume that either Mrs. Taylor or he son is lying about what happened, and about the rationale the school gave for cutting David from the team.

And I think there was a society once based on the principle of "follow the rules": follow the rules, obey whatever command issues from the "proper authorities," without stopping to ask questions about the nature of their authority or whether the rules makes sense. I think you can probably guess what country that was.

Mrs. Taylor and the other parents are paying taxes to fund that school; it should be run as a consumers' co-op in the first place, with the parents appointing the staff and giving them orders, instead of the other way around. The fact that school administrations hold such unaccountable power is part of the problem.

April 23, 2005 4:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Freedom of association is one of the core values of a civil, equally free society. An organic part of freedom of association is the freedom to share, to "commune" by sharing; by trading their redundant pogs with each other, the school boys helped each other to share increased value in pogs.

This is one more example of the dereliction of supposedly public interest schools. One would expect that as a bare minimum, such schools would at least respect core civil liberty values, and thus teach by example. But "learning by doing" is not part of the "praxis" of educrats who've had all their common sense educated away by too many years of rubbing their noses inside of PhD educational tomes.

Another key aspect of the freedom of association is the freedom to disassociate from bullies, like the freedom to walk away from bullies in a free society. Now, how is that possible in compulsory attendance public schools? What kind of lesson do children learn when they are forced to suffer bullying by other students, without recourse or self defense?

May 06, 2005 1:57 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home