Since the early origins of the state, it’s rulers have always sought to ally itself with the social class of intellectuals to bolster the necessity of governmental rule through the education system. Recognizing that the masses tend to passively follow the ideas touted by the body of intellectuals who become the “opinion-molders” in society.
This alliance has taken many forms over history, the “alter and throne” in the middle ages for example. The institution of the church (clergy being the trusted intellectuals of the day) would spread the message that the rulers are wise, good, and divinely ordained. In turn, the crown granted the clergy power and prestige as well as security.
This sort of oligarchical symbiosis grants the intellectual class the capacity and means to achieve great change and in some cases, revolution. From the USSR to Nazi Germany, to the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. The main propagation machine of these revolutionaries consisted of institutions of education.
Pol Pot began his revolution with Ieng Sary and Hou Yuon, who became teachers at the private high school, Lycée Kambuboth. Soon, the dogma of communist revolution spread to other centers of education. Many of those that committed the horrific atrocities to follow, were young high school and college-aged males.
Millions of German young people were won over to Nazism in the classroom and through extracurricular activities. Schools began glorifying the “aryan” race and demonizing other races “incapable of forming civilization” In the classroom and in the Hitler Youth, instruction aimed to produce race-conscious, obedient, self-sacrificing Germans who would be willing to die for Führer and Fatherland. By 1936 membership in the Hitler Youth increased to 5.4 million before it became mandatory in 1939.
One factor is a common in these examples. The omission of historical and scientific truth in lieu of the propagation of an ideology. Education is changed to be anything but that, it becomes indoctrination.
In the past twenty years or so in America, public education has gone under scrutiny for things like “revisionist history” “common core” and “social experimentation”. Students of public schools who grew up in the millennial generation sat through history classes that glossed over major events in world happenings such as world war two , and over emphasized others, such as the sexual revolution. Or quite simply, history is presented in a skewed light, especially matters relating to the American revolution and the founding documents.
Now, revolutionary ideologies from both the right and the left, have manifested themselves in the millennial generation. The left, quite literally marching in lockstep with the ideology they have been spoon fed against the human right of self protection. In contrast, the far right, in reactionaries to this propaganda spreads its own. Talks of ethno-nationalism are now all too common on the internet.
It has long been touted that the church and the state be separate as their monopolization of influence on the people was coercive. I think it is high time, we revisit this notion with education centers in mind.
Read more of Chris’s articles for Think Liberty here.