Esolen: Socializing

“The salesman of the Teaching Machine, aware that children who are whisked out of their control usually learn quite a lot that is taught never taught within the Machine, fall back upon an impregnable defense. It is then that we learn what the machine is for. It is not for teaching children but for socializing them. Notice the ugly word, as if it were describing a chemical process for transforming worthless dross into something useful, like a rubber tire. Socializing evidently does not mean that the Teaching Machine imparts the difficult virtues of courage, temperance, prudence, and justice, much less such family-building and family-protecting virtues as manliness, womanliness, and chastity. Those virtues set a people free. But we do not want a free people. Free people are not predictable. We want a managed people.

So we teach them how to sit still, how to obey bells, how to make insipid cliches pass for thought, how to be ‘subversive’ in trivial and uniform ways, how to think ‘outside the box’ of tradition and wisdom and into the stainless steel cage of the politically ‘correct’, how to extend the political pinkie while sipping the political tea. The Teaching Machine serves as a Sanding, Veneering, and Finishing School for people who will work at moving memoranda from shelf A to shelf B (if they are good students and well-socialized) or at moving potato product from bag C to trough of boiling fat D (if they are not good students but are still well-socialized). Meanwhile, the school is so large that it must, for most students at most times, be essentially anonymous – no one knows everyone, and no one comes close; everyone every day passes by faces he cannot identify and never will identify. The school is a pit of backbiting, tale bearing, vindictiveness, cruelty, snobbery, fear, ambition, flattery, and hard-heartedness.”

– Anthony Esolen, Life Under Compulsion (pp. 34-35)

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