Friday, April 29, 2011

Educated Youth and Educated Elite

Our era is the Age of the Educated Elite. It is this elite that constitutes the Ruling Class, as Angelo Codevilla has argued. Its interests, its visions, its prejudices are what drive the culture, drive politics, and channel the economic sector.

This Educated Elite sits on high, in groves of Academe, in the judge's seat in our courtrooms, in the throbbing pulse of media, and the compulsive images of movies and TV.

Today we have a vast centralized administrative state because the Educated Elite wanted it. We have a cruel racial divide because the Educated Elite willed it and deepened it. We live in subjection to minute and pervasive government regulation because the Educated Elite has legislated its morality upon us.

The rule of the Educated Elite could never have succeeded without its alter ego, the angry and idealistic young people we may call Educated Youth. Beginning, let us say, with Marx and Engels in the 1840s, Educated Youth has played a critical role in the political project of the Educated Elite. It is Educated Youth that plays the "idealism" card. It is Educated Youth that runs the street protest action. It is Educated Youth that gets in the faces of the middle class and demands "change." In Emile Zola's Germinal it is the Educated Youth Etienne that provokes the miners into strikes and violence--and then abandons them to their fate and heads off to his next gig. In the Sixties it was Educated Youth that ran the big anti-war demonstrations and that demanded "change" from the academic establishment in the universities. What could the Educated Elite do but accede to the idealistic demands of Educated Youth?

By the time that the young Barack Obama came up through the system the role of Educated Youth had been formalized into the practice of "community organizing," with Educated Youth descending from on high into, say, the South Side of Chicago to organize the laid-off steelworkers.

In other words, the key active ingredient in the over-under coalition of the Educated Elite and the Helpless Victims is the organizing power of Educated Youth to whom falls the task of organizing and radicalizing the Helpless Victims for which government must supply pensions, health care, education, and welfare.

We may think of the modern education system, particularly the modern university, as a training system designed to produce Educated Youth, with the capstone being the highly rated selective college. The whole operation is rather like the Jesuit education system of old which was designed to indoctrinate the children of the faithful early and often and to identify and induct into the priesthood the best of the best.

It is obvious that any successful effort to dispatch the modern Ruling Class, the Educated Elite, onto the dust-heap of history must split the Educated Youth off from the Educated Elite. It must deny the officer class its supply of eager young subalterns ready and willing to die for the cause.

Central to this effort has to be a transformation of education. It must start with a large expansion of school choice, charter schools and vouchers. But the goal must be to get the government out of schooling altogether, on the principle that government education is a violation of the separation of church and state. Education is, in part, a cultural and religious thing. For sure, education is needed to make youngsters literate and numerate, but that is just a part of its social role. Education is also the business of creating adults in accordance with some moral/cultural vision of the good. Government should not do this, for if it does it acts as an establishment of secular religion, and the constitution forbids an establishment of religion.

The remarkable modern phenomenon of home-schooled children--from spelling bee winners to Tea Party activists--that easily out-shine the products of conventional schools are a living witness to the possibilities of a transformation of the education system. It is a witness to the difference between raising up a child and confining a child in a custodial facility.

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