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Can the School
and the University
Make You Free?

Liberty Examined,
as the Individual Wants it,
as the School Envisions it

By Punkerslut

By Punkerslut
Image: By Punkerslut,
Made with Graphics by Linuxerist (Edited by Fred the Oyster),
Released under Creative Commons
"Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported" License

Start Date: August 11, 2010
Finish Date: August 11, 2010

A Concept of Liberty

"In every commercial state, notwithstanding any pretension to equal rights, the exaltation of a few must depress the many. In this arrangement, we think that the extreme meanness of some classes must arise chiefly from the defect of knowledge, and of liberal education; and we refer to such classes, as to an image of what our species must have been in its rude and uncultivated state. But we forget how many circumstances, especially in populous cities, tend to corrupt the lowest orders of men. Ignorance is the least of their failings."
          --Adam Ferguson, 1767
          "An Essay on the History of Civil Society," Part 4, Section II

     Everywhere in modern nations, education is promoted and advocated as a great equalizer. Where there is poverty and hunger, the philosopher of today's government has said there needs to be more opportunity. And by this, what the philosopher means is more universities and more schools. They want to provide what they believe is going to uplift the people from their miserable conditions. The people will be liberated, from both ignorance and poverty. This is the aim and belief of education within the typical, Liberal state. It is a predominant idea today throughout the established institutions of almost every nation.

     What does it take to make a person free? This should be first considered before can make an analysis of the school. For a person to be free, they must first believe themselves to be free. The individual could be provided every single opportunity to advance themselves personally, socially, and mentally. But, if they do not feel that these are real options, that they are fair and worthy, then they will abandon whatever "opportunities" are provided for them.

     More than that, though, the individual is the greatest judge of their own condition. Whatever "liberty" or "freedom" is advocated by a government, it will simply become a meaningless motto, no less heartless than a corporate slogan. To make the individual free, they must in themselves believe it and want it. Governments have only been able of reaching the point of making some of them believe in it.

     Once the individual feels free, what is then necessary to accomplish their full liberty? It is not enough to simply say that they now have a right to do as they please, and that this literally amounts to nothing more than when they were unfree. The free individual needs opportunity to practice their freedom. If liberty amounts to living the same as living in slavery, then the individual certainly won't believe in it -- they won't even have a valid reason for wanting it.

     Not only must there be some new options that the individual is free to choose from, but they must be options that someone would have a reasonable desire for participating in. They must not just have new options, but they must have new options that directly appeal to them and their specific tastes. It is not just a freedom to comply -- but a freedom to the full development of the individual's characteristics, whether they are social, emotional, or intellectual. Liberty is for the individual to choose as they like, not for a society to impose as mold upon its individuals.

"A man's genius is always, in the beginning of life, as much unknown to himself as to others..."
          --David Hume, 1758
          "Essays, Moral, Political, Literary," Section: "Of the Rise and Progress of the Arts and Sciences"

From Peace Libertad Blog
Image: From Peace Libertad Blog,
the "La lutte continue " Gallery

A Concept of Control

"In physics and chemistry, and in application of these to industry, the progress made in a century has been little short of the marvelous. But in the social sciences there is no such advance to record, because the progress of these sciences and their progressive application to society means the destruction of capitalism, private ownership of the means of life. And so orthodox economics is barren of fruits, has no real connection with the developing economic phenomena, and is incapable of explaining them. The economists of today write books, abounding with mathematical subtleties, such as have no guidance to give us so far as the control of social productive forces is concerned."
          --John Maclean and J.D. MacDougall, 1916
          "A Plea For A Labour College For Scotland"

     What is it that the school provides? Now that we have some conception of liberty, however abstract, we must return to this question: can the school and the university make you free? In asking this question, we must ask whether the school provides the individual with a sense of emancipation, by providing them with new and meaningful opportunities to practice whatever they like.

     There is opportunity presented in the university system, as the distinctions made between those with a high school diploma, a two-year degree, a four-year degree, a six-year degree, etc., etc.. Is there a meaningful difference between these positions? No matter what degree you receive, the greatest likelihood is that you will use as a bargaining tool in employment. You will not revolve your position in society, so much as you make it somewhat more bearable Though your mind may be used more as you receive higher pay, you still have absolutely no control over the environment in which you work. You are still as much at the command of a boss as the least respected and least paid of the laborers.

     Even the majority of students studying business and marketing are likely to end up as managers or professional employees of a company, than starting their own enterprise. And what would it mean, if school were able to provide the opportunity of living off of a business? First, this wouldn't be possible, since every business needs capital, but what if a degree was all that was necessary to get an easy loan for millions of dollars? It would only mean that the school cleared the path so that one person who sit on top of the labors of others. It would only mean that they have helped one of the peons raise themselves not to the status of equal -- but to the status of lord.

     Does the improved income translate to more opportunities for the development of the individual's social, intellectual, and moral needs? It can translate to more comfort, to greater material ease, to easier existence at the expense of others. It does not help a person better integrate into a community, to better understand others, and to seek what is good for all. It does not imbue them with a spirit of passion. The learning that takes place is not done by the inspired pupil, but it is imposed upon an uneasy student population. The sign of achievement, the diploma or degree, is not a sign of intelligence or love of wisdom -- it is a sign that the student has learned to become obedient. And by becoming obedient, and improving their material standard by it, they are learning to accept domination -- as easy as using food to train a dog.

     The school and the university are the definition of a coercive situation. They do not reward students upon accomplishment, but only upon following particular guidelines. A student in chemistry could cure cancer tomorrow, but first they must master Latin before French, and to memorize a useless list of chemical syntheses that have no relation to their field of study. A student in sociology could know the ideal organization to promote happiness and peace, but they must first be acquainted with Shakespeare and Dostoyevsky. They are not learning how to better improve their world and how to become an active, hopeful participant of society. They are learning to sacrifice their real ambitions and desires, so that they can better feed themselves in this cannibal economy.

     The university does not make the student free in providing them with real opportunities -- it makes them ignorant, by convincing them that there are no real avenues for meaningful, personal development.


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