“Karl Marx For President”

Incompetence and endangered freedom.

Recently, a memorable video had been circulated. It showed a person collecting signatures in a better neighborhood. So far, you have not discovered anything sufficiently unusual to deserve a commentary. The wondering ends when you hear about the matter for which support was drummed up.

In the video, passersby are faced with this plea: “Support Obama’s continued Communist course. In the past, he has been advised by his friend Karl Marx to guide his actions. To assure the continuity of his policy, Karl Marx needs to be our candidate after the coming election because Obama cannot run,. Therefore, we ask you to sign this petition supporting ‘Karl Marx for President’.”

To the sane viewer, this undertaking sounds like a trigger to provoke quotable funny responses. That is not what happens in the video. One is stunned to see how passers-by listen, nod, and then sign the fake petition. Their favor is always acknowledged with a “thank you for supporting the Communist course”. While contempt rises, with each episode, one discovers growing respect for the man that conducts the survey. He never laughs nor does he let his disdain show. 

Before commenting regarding “our condition” as revealed, another recently circulated item comes to mind. It is a map of Europe with the current state boundaries correctly drawn. The respondents were to fill in the missing names of the countries. The attached samples demonstrate that America’s culturally related allies form, regardless of tourism and cheap charter flights, a “dark continent”. No wonder that, some respondents even managed to miss England. 



To complete this list, a detail from a quiz show from some years back reoccurs. To get the money a woman has to place “Hungary”. She concludes that, while she has heard that there is something like “turkey”, nevertheless, a place named “hungry” is unlikely to exist. 

With that said, we proceed to the analysis, which is, even if it cannot match the foregoings’ humor, more important than the laughable ignorance exhibited. 

Here being ridiculous without wanting to be funny has significance. Based on these samples, several points emerge. One is that the cited cases reveal a crash. We witness a practical smash-up of popular educational theory on the merciless rock of reality. By serving themselves but not their “patients”, for decades now, the educationalists have used their power, to implement the pet theories of the Dr. Spock crowd. In this America leads other countries that are culturally conditioned to follow US trends after a delay needed for the “translation”.

Prevailing fashion converts schooling into a form of entertainment. Since learning requires an effort, nothing is to be taught that might stress the cushion-wrapped trainees with what they do not already know. In addition, school should be a kind of fun that makes those exposed to it feel good about themselves. This is achieved through a process that gives “respect” to “learners” and leaves their “opinions” unchallenged. Do not all individuals deserve respect? Is this not to be taken to mean that the opinion of students and the knowledge of instructors are of equal value? Due to that, nothing can be really “wrong” as it is only “unique and individualistic”. This makes the transmission of the knowledge –if attempted-  inefficiently slow and only partial. 

Schooling is also suffering from the downrating of the competence of the instructors to the level of the unpolished “reflections” of the trainees. The implied end of teaching –from those that know to those that wish to find out- takes two forms. For one, “hard” subjects that really need to be learned are eliminated or they can be opted away. Between math and consumer skills, the latter will prevail. 

Second, there is a change in the instructors that includes the professors. Since these have become “facilitators”, their skills have decreased. Furthermore, the endorsed method of teaching deemphasizes skills and the ability to communicate them. Nothing can teach and expand intellects more than a well-delivered frontal (yes!) lecture by an eloquent and competent professional. Instead of knowledgeable communicators of what is worth knowing, we enthrone the regurgitators of fashionable shibboleth that might know a bit about very little. These accept that they are the equals of those they are to teach. In numerous cases, one is tempted to agree with the assumption. Therefore, these people teach to please. The resulting good ratings by those injected with good feelings will supply the world with ignoramuses. The dividend is that their delusional satisfaction paves the access to tenure-track positions by producing good ratings. Additionally, and self destructively, promotions are not earned by quality teaching.

This downgrading of competence by the egalitarianism of “a diploma for all willing takers” produces more than a growing class of semi-literate unemployables. Frighteningly, the process also shapes citizens. Their decisive defect goes beyond proud demonstrations of ignorance. The mass of the uninformed, which is encouraged by degree distribution to those that are made to presume themselves to be qualified, has a vote. Thereby the unqualified are empowered and so they have an input on the political process that determines their community’s fate. 

If a majority is capable of understanding beyond the immediate benefit the future’s risks, and if they knowingly and soberly choose to accept the hazard then, regardless of whether one approves, the decision is by the rules of democracy, properly made. The general franchise’s inherent danger arises when those that exercise it are disabled to comprehend the possible consequences of their preference. When in England the right to vote was extended to all citizens in the 19th century, a wise contemporary observed, “now we have to educate our masters”. Modern educationism and the manipulative politics behind it, have foolishly and criminally failed at this elementary duty.

Praised to be ignorant

A few years back I was confronted in the street by a student bewailing the human fate from Global Warming. I asked her "What is the specific heat of carbon dioxide as opposed to that of nitrogen?" She replied with "what is specific heat"? After a few more questions I was able to confirm that this student had no knowledge of the basic science that would be required to evaluate the reality of Global Warming but had made it her "life's calling".

On another day I happened across a student bewailing that G.W. Bush was destroying the world. Again I asked a few questions to verify that this person had no knowledge to support the claim.

I could give a few more examples but these suffice to show the blind lackey mentality that our educational system has instilled into the minds of many students. They are willing to stake their daily existence on activities for which they have little or no knowledge to justify their support. In a oblique fashion educators mold the persons of these poor people to act out of ignorance of what would would be needed to demonstrate the positions they adopt. Our educators somehow have evaded the need to teach the need to support one's position based on real observable facts and experiences. It is as if the new approach is to teach the laws of motion not by observing the movement of balls on an inclined plain, for example, but by throwing oneself over a cliff. Of course, to do this our educators must first obliterate self-respect and humility. They instill uncontrolled passion for barely understood causes - which is equivalent to teaching students to become insane and ignorant.

The price of political ignorance

George Will has an article in today' s Washington Post newspaper on the same subject, based on a recent book by Ilya Somin of George Mason University' s law school entitled "Democracy and Political Ignorance", which puts great store in an "engaged judiciary" to enforce few and defined enumerated powers for government (Madison).

Winston Churchill is supposed to have said that..."the best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter". But, really, doesn't the alternative remain...worse?