.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, May 25, 2005

Destroying the Capacity for Independent Thought

An excellent diatribe against daycare by Karen De Coster at LewRockwell.Com:

As a child, I placed a great premium on quiet-time and time spent alone indulging in my solo interests. Whether the order of the day was creating some new artwork or reading my books, or writing a story or listening to my records, it was something I found necessary for my peace of mind, and for the growth of my intellectual capabilities. After school, I remember running home as fast as I could and bursting into the house, heading straight for my room and all my little tasks that lay before me. It was as much fun planning those activities as it was doing them. I felt a sense of security and comfort, since I knew Mom was there, and therefore, everything was going to be all right. I ran home because I knew it was a place that I wanted to be. Now, kids don't run home to Mom anymore, because they have the latchkey stopover that comes between school and home. The security of Mom may come hours after school is over. During the summer months, for me, it was a whole day of various things to do; things I wanted to do. I never could have survived a moment as a daycare kid.

Can one who grew up like I did even imagine living the chaos of the daycare center life? Gaggles of kids, some screaming and some crying, some fighting and some sick, all letting loose in an atmosphere void of parents, control, or set discipline. Even if there exists a sense of discipline, where can a child get any peace, for instance, to read or write or study, or to develop artistic or musical talents?

There is no peace, for a daycare kid is trapped in a ritual of group games, group projects, and group trips. The activities are planned, as are lunchtime and naptime. Solo time, however, is not planned because it does not exist. A child is forced into this groupthink whether he likes it or not. He has no access to his own "things", his own comforts that he chooses, or his own hobbies. He's there to be babysat and to go along with the rest of the group on its little projects, no matter how uninteresting he may find them. And he is expected to do that for eight, ten, twelve hours a day, every day.

This phenomenon is reinforced by several others. One is the enormous increase in educational work-load, with American publik skools adopting the Japanese approach to scheduling every waking hour with relentless homework and drilling, inculating an attitude of calculating careerism, and churning out obedient drones who'll do whatever they're told--without question--by whatever organization employs them. So let's answer Karen's question with another one--when does the upwardly-mobile, professional-track little resume-builder ever find time for quiet reflection and the pursuit of independent interests, when every evening he comes home with enough homework to last till bedtime? I think it's safe to say that most of today's overachievers don't even know what an independent interest is. After twelve or sixteen (or more) years of seeing every activity and every thing learned as another line on the resume, another gold star granted by an authority figure, of responding to every bit of information with "is this going to be on the test"--how would they even know what they really want to do, for it's own sake?

Finally, if these things aren't enough to destroy the capacity for independent thought, we've got our real-life version of the "handicaps" Kurt Vonnegut envisioned in "Harrison Bergeron." In his egalitarian dystopia, everyone of above-average ability was required to wear a handicap device of some sort. For instance, a person of above-average intelligence would wear a headset that, at random intervals, zapped the wearer or deafened him with a loud noise, so that he was unable to follow any coherent line of thought for five minutes at a time. In the real world, we don't need a handicapper-general; instead, people are lining up to buy their handicaps from Cingular or T-Mobile. Until the dawning of the Age of the Perpetually Wired-in Conversation, around a decade ago, it was while doing menial chores or walking from one place to another that thinking people often got their best thinking done. Now, every other person I see going down the sidewalk is carrying on a conversation. Can anyone born before 1985 even remember what it was like to be alone with your thoughts, without the constant possibility of being jerked by an electronic leash?


Blogger Kevin Carson said...

"However, since we live are living in a capitalist slave system...."

Yep, that's just it. If we could increase the bargaining power of labor, and raise the personal income tax exemption to what it was before bracket creep, a lot fewer families might need two incomes. As it is, many jobs barely produce any income at all after the cost of commuting and daycare are figured in; increasing wages might make the difference for many families in deciding a second job wasn't worth it.

Of course, the educracy has a vested interest in getting its grubby mits on kids at ever younger ages. When I was that age, kindergarten was much less universal than today--now it's almost a standard school grade in the K-12 system. And the educrats want to make pre-K a standard grade as well. The sooner you can get kids out of the hands of their atavistic, ownlife-corrupted families (as the pigs took the pups away from their mother in Animal Farm), the sooner they can be processed into efficient servants of the corporate state.

I even heard some public educationist on NPR calling for putting the education bureaucracy in charge of after-school recreation, and extending the school day and year; he called the present-day schedule a holdover from an agricultural society. In our new enlightened age, families are just for incubating the human raw material.

I don't think democracy can possibly survive a citizenry whose minds have been molded by the state from the time they first learned to talk.

May 27, 2005 7:24 AM  
Blogger Kevin Carson said...

That sounds an awful lot like Wal-Mart giving their "associates" detailed instructions on how to apply for food stamps. And some of the most powerful support for single-payer health insurance in this country comes from the Fortune 500 (big corps are most likely to provide health benefits, and are at a competitive disadvantage from smaller firms that don't offer health coverage). Any government program that funds the basic subsistence needs of the population will, in practice, be a subsidy to part of the reproduction cost of labor-power that would otherwise have to be paid as wages.

May 30, 2005 8:44 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home