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Re: [Phys-L] Economist Kern Alexander Explains the Problem with School Choice

Let us not fool ourselves, all societies are based on the idea that the
individual is supposed to obey the rules which are good for the society.
Indeed evolution has built this into our very psyche. Look at the studies
where they test competition vs. cooperation. Many of them show that
cooperation is the stronger force.

The early history of our schools was blatantly aimed at inculcation our
society's morals into the youths. This included the majority religious
values. Of course people who revolted against this, but if they were a
minority they were banned, shunned or in the case of New England thrown out
into the cold. The modern revolution against this type of thinking may have
begun when the NY City schools were forced to stop teaching Protestantism.
It seemed that enough Catholics were in the city that they were able to get
their people on the school board. The teachers, who were often ministers,
were then admonished to not teach religion. But as late as the second half
of the 20th century there were still districts where religious intolerance
was still practiced. At Duke there was a secretary who was forced to leave
teaching because she was told they would not hire a Catholic to teach
history in the Durham public schools.

Many political issues hinge on the idea that behavior a is good for society
and b is bad so b is evil and must be banned. It turns out that recent
studies have even shown that gossip is a form of social control. It exerts
social pressure on individuals to conform to the prevailing norms.

Fascism and Communism are what one would call the extreme forms of social
control gone wild, and both had a strong component of monarchy in the
presence of a single powerful leader. The opposite where individuals are
totally set free is anarchy with the attendant rise in murder and mayhem.
But the belief that individuals serve the society is actually very strong in
internally peaceful societies such as England or Japan. Japan is probably
one of the strongest in this regard. But the Japanese also do not have the
Middle Eastern idea that one religion is the only true one and that all
others must be stamped out. In reality, both German Fascism, and Russian
Communism exhibited a zeal to stamp out the opposing views rather than
tolerating them. So equating Fascism with the belief that society must be
served is way out of line. Both Communism and Fascism are tails on the
curve, but they exerted a huge influence. The Taliban are Fascists, but
most politicians in Western countries are far from that. It is true that
some flirt with Fascism when they associate with preachers who say the
statues in churches should be smashed. Rick Perry is one of these.
Traditionalists are basically believers in the individual serving the
society, and most of them are far from Fascists. Fascism is unlikely to
flourish where the government requires the consensus of a large number
rather than rule from above by the few.

Again, one should not use terms like Fascism because they are basically
calling the other person ignorant and are saying that you have the TRUTH.

John M. Clement
Houston, TX

An old refrain from me, but the goals and procedures of public
education need always be viewed through the lenses of the 'public
good'. This is why public education exists--to serve the

The belief that the primary responsibility of the individual
is to serve the state is at the core of fascism. Replacing
"state" by "society"
makes no difference in this context.