self-test for fascist tendencies – item # 2

July 24, 2006

item # 2:

you are a sucker for
sweeping generalizations:

all blacks
all whites
all girls
all boys
all rich
all poor



12 Responses to “self-test for fascist tendencies – item # 2”

  1. slynne Says:

    I’m enjoying this series you have going. Afraid I missed the much discussed picture on the first one, though.
    I love how this one has the “all” list and then “always”. And ending with “never” is also great. So final, and it places that distance there, too, between writer and subject, as if you are trying to say, “they use never, and now I want to say that I don’t, but how can I without never?”
    That didn’t make a lot of sense. Well, maybe it did.

  2. mead Says:


    Many (notice, not all) people who use those generalities use them as a shield to hide from the responsibility of thought. To make any sort of “All these are those.” statement requires a high standard of proof. If one does not stand behind thier “All” statement with a logical argument, then how can one believe the statement?

  3. qazse Says:

    slynne – thanks for the comments. Never say never? I will re-post the picture since it adds to a clearer appreciation of the comments/ discussion.  I assume Mead would not object based on one of his comments. I loved the whole discussion.

  4. qazse Says:

    mead – thanks also. Interesting insight, “hiding from the responsibility of thought.” It leads me to reflect upon how we educate children. Do we teach a responsibility to think or a responsibility to memorize? I think more so the latter.  It serves corporate (status quo) interests better – that is, the creation of loyal consumers (followers) versus critical thinkers.

  5. mead Says:

    My, my, such conspiracy theories!

    I think that the problem has more to do with over-regulation than any sort of corporatization of the schools. The trend has been to have “objective” standards for the schools (objective in quotes because who chooses the standards?). The cheapest way to do that is with standardized tests. In order for schools to receive a high score and retain funding, the students of the school have to score well on these tests. The schools thus have a very strong incentive for teaching for the test instead teaching to give a student a basic education to prepare them for life as an adult in our society. As you said, responsibility to memorize over responsibility to think.

    Corporations would tend (notice I wrote tend) to be better behaved than that. They would want the students well educated so the corporations would have a high quality, future work force. Governments (or mismanaged corporations) have no such incentive since they foresight of a government only extends to the next election (or the next shareholder meeting).

  6. qazse Says:

    I do not believe the process I described is a conscious one. Rather, it is “what works” to keep a certain homeostasis and predictability to life in modern societies. That is, this is our system and we are sticking with it. It is not predicated upon freethinking beyond the utilitarian sort. The public school curriculum is a pragmatic one based on keeping the big economy going.

    It has been my observation, having worked in many different schools and raised two children, we do not teach our children about ideas. We drill them on facts. I agree, the recent No Child etc initiative reinforces rote learning even more. But rote education has been the focus of U.S. public education since it’s inception. As you point out, the corporations benefit by getting “educated” workers. But I submit the “education” is selective. There is minimal philosophy, ethics, music, art, and language taught. It is sad that we wait until high school to start teaching language, or that many people get bachelors degrees without ever having to take a course in logic or ethics. We don’t want people who question, we want people who innovate. Adjustment over change. That is why man is plagued by many of the same issues over and over. It is not so much man’s nature as how men in power organize society.

    Pardon all the sweeping generalizations. It is only my opinion.

    I am not rejecting innovation, or memorization, or intelligent use of data. What I do reject is the limited scope of public ed. There is much which is left out because it is, to some degree, subversive to the status-quo. Cheerleaders, football heroes, and prom extravagances are good for Big economy and the Big economy mind-set. Intelligent consumption is often not. For example buying local produce, buying organic produce, going off the grid, and wearing less chemicals.

    Again, no one sits down and plans it. It just happens. Organizations in motion tend to stay in motion even if dysfunctional to others. As long as they are not dysfunctional to themselves.

  7. slynne Says:

    As an educator, I have to agree that the trend towards standardized tests does prize memorization over true original thought. Because it is a lot easier and benificial to do so, lots of teachers don’t go the extra mile that it takes to teach people both at the same time.

    Another thing about standardization in our schools: it is another way that our society stigmatizes people with fewer resources. Children in schools with higher student to teacher ratios, children in schools with out of date text books, and students in schools where they have to spend a large part of the day worrying about safety are penalized for not learning as much as children in coseted suburban schools.

    Unfortuately, not only do organizations keep on, but dysfunctional policies often do, too.

  8. qazse Says:

    well put

    I think the way schools are funded differentially as a function of community wealth results in one of the most glaring inequities in our society today. If you demand universal mandatory education and universal measurement and accountability then make it equally resourced across all venues.

  9. mead Says:

    Careful what you wish for, qazse, you might get it. Take a look at the horror stories in Vermont and New Hampshire where statewide level funding was made into law. Property taxes shot through the roof. Wealthier towns were declared “gold towns” and were taxed at an even higher rate, to the disaster of the not so wealthy in those towns. Because of the new found income source, there was no incentive to lower the cost of education and spending went out of control. This led to towns suing their states for tax relief. Killington, VT even tried to secede from the state. I know all of this because I lived through it in Vermont.

  10. qazse Says:

    When I am talking about the “you” as in “demand universal mandatory education” I am refering to the feds and their unique ability (albeit often poorly executed) to bring collective resources to their mandates. ( Rather, our resources are being pissed away on a kill party. )

    I think the funding issue is a quagmire no matter what, and the experience of VT and NH demonstrate that. You have more first hand knowlege about this than me. Do you see any specific solutions?

    Let me say in general, I do not look to government for all solutions. In fact – the fewer the better. However, I think, if a superceding government mandates the implementation of X, they better help you resource it to compliance. Too often governing bodies are ordered to do things they can’t afford to do. Something has to give.

    Regarding Vermont. Where did you live and how did you like it?

  11. mead Says:

    I lived in Montpelier for two years and had to leave the state becaue I could not afford to stay. The cost of living was too high for my wife and I. Also, property taxes were so high we could not afford to buy a house. Keep in mind that my wife and I made well above the average income. We spent the last of our savings to move to Florida and were in our own house within a year.

    Other than the cost of living, I liked Vermont. The state is absolutely beautiful. I would love to have a summer place there, if I could afford it.

  12. qazse Says:

    mead, thank you for you response.
    We live five hours southwest of Vt and often visit there to camp or ski.
    I fantasize about retiring there but your experience speaks to the big hurdle – affordability. My wife and I have been in social services for most of our work life. We remain a paycheck or two away from homelessness.

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