The Myth of Trade Unionism,

The Rule of Caprice

excerpted from the book

Indispensible Enemies

The Politics of Misrule in America

by Walter Karp

Franklin Square Press, 1993, paper

[originally published - 1973]


The Myth of Trade Unionism

... with only occasional and inconsequential exceptions, the trade-union organizations put their enormous wealth and influence at the service of Democratic machine politics, of local, state and national Democratic bosses, and hence of the party oligarchy as a whole.

... When the party oligarchs instituted Jim Crow in the South, Southern trade unions promptly raised the color bar and kept it raised until the oligarchs themselves were forced to relent. Whenever the party bosses decide upon war-from World War I to Vietnam-the union chiefs invariably shout the loudest war cries.

The legal foundation of trade unionism ... has been established, essentially, since 1947. That year, the Taft-Hartley Act reiterated word for word all the fundamental pro-union provisions of the 1935 Wagner Act, including the "duty" of employers to bargain collectively, one of the most important provisions of all. By reiterating the Wagner Act provisions, however, the Taft-Hartley Act went beyond them because all the key terms-the "duty" to bargain, for example-had already been defined in thousands of pro-union decisions of the National Labor Relations Board, which the Wagner Act created. The Taft-Hartley Act gave statutory legal status to these administrative decisions and thereby made it compulsory for employers to bargain collectively with unions to a satisfactory conclusion. With that, the legal foundation of trade unionism was essentially complete, a Republican Congress having established by general law all that an earlier generation of trade unionists had hoped to win piecemeal through individual union-management contracts. Compared to its pro-union features, the anti-union provisions of the Taft-Hartley Act are trifles, the prohibition against closed shops, for example, being virtually inconsequential. Since 1947, however, the trade-union chiefs have been, if anything, even more subservient to the party oligarchs than ever.

The machinery for setting the nation's industrial wages works essentially as follows: by common agreement among the oligarchs, the industrial unions and the major industrial corporations, one industrial union is allowed to be the wage leader, just as in setting prices for a monopoly industry one company, by common consent, is usually allowed to be the price leader. The contracts negotiated by the wage leader are then heralded as the standard to which other unions and nonunion workers are supposed to aspire. In practice, wage leadership was given to the United Automobile Workers, the largest industrial union, in collaboration with General Motors, the largest industrial corporation. In 1948, the UAW and GM actually drew up a basic contract which explicitly embodies the government's wage policy: wage increases, according to that contract, were to be determined by the annual increase in productivity-an estimated 3 percent-and increases in the cost of living. The government, for its part, was supposed to ensure stable prices, which it did until the Vietnam War. To help convince union members-the only people not party to the agreement-that the UAW was a worthy wage leader, the union's late president, Walter Reuther, was built up as the one truly unblemished hero of trade unionism. So precious a commodity was Reuther's reputation as an independent man that the oligarchs even allowed him not to endorse the Vietnam War, although the UAW never supported the peace movement either. It just went into limbo for a few years, splitting with the war-hawk AIL-CIO in 1968 in order to do so. The part which union economic power plays in all this is nil, like that power itself.

In denying that trade unions exercise economic power, I seem to be ignoring the notorious power 0f the craft unions and particularly that of the two dozen unions comprising the building trades. In many ways the craft unions are different from the newer industrial unions. They are not, for one thing, essential parts of the monopoly economy. Whereas four corporations employ almost all the nation's automobile workers, literally thousands of building contractors employ the members of the construction unions. Yet even these unions do not wield independent economic power. The high hourly wages which construction workers earn (when they work) are not due to union power but to the scarcity of employable workers. This scarcity, however, is entirely the result of state and municipal ordinances. By means of building codes, apprenticeship laws, licensing laws and other measures, corrupt local governments secured for the craft unions the power to control and restrict the number of skilled workers in the field. Corrupt local governments, for example, compel contractors to hire only union help by prohibiting any but licensed workers to take part in construction while giving the licensing power to the union bosses. To protect craft-union control of the skilled labor force further, the same municipal governments award huge city building contracts only to companies that hire union members, or more precisely, that commission union business agents to do the hiring. The building trades unions-and other craft unions-are simply government-created monopolies. They have privileges but no independent power. The benefits which craft-union members receive from sharing in monopoly privilege they get entirely at government behest. Since it is a corrupt privilege granted at the expense of the many, the craft unions have been serving local political machines for almost a century. The real difference between the craft unions and the later industrial unions is that members of the former derive real benefits from union membership (they often pay huge entry fees for the right to share in monopoly privilege), whereas industrial union members only get what they would have to be given anyway in order to maintain the monopoly economy.

It is obvious, therefore, why trade-union organizations are subservient to corrupt power. Without the constant connivance of the party oligarchs, union members would have little reason to belong to trade unions. Only corrupt monopoly privilege keeps craft unionists in craft unions. Only the oligarchs' connivance at a momentous fiction-the fiction that industrial unions win benefits for workers by their independent economic power-keeps industrial workers in industrial unions. The ultimate special privilege which trade-union leaders receive from the party oligarchs is the privilege of being trade-union leaders; the standing debt which the AFL-CIO owes to the party bosses is payment for its very existence.

Politically speaking, however, the crucial question is why the oligarchs have found it so useful to put millions of workers in trade unions (including, since 1960, government-created government employees unions). In what way, that is, does the existence of trade unions serve the interests of oligarchic power? The answer is-in every way possible.

Aside from political money and support, the primary service which the industrial unions render to oligarchic power is to disguise the political determination of industrial wages. The oligarchs' need to disguise this is readily apparent. If industrial workers were to recognize the political basis of their weekly paychecks, they would press, they could not help but press, their demands directly upon government itself. Organization control of elected officials cannot withstand an electorate whose interests are so visibly affected by public decisions. Party power cannot bear too many real issues appearing in the public arena, such issues as the share-out of total income between workers and corporations. By siphoning wage settlements (and other benefits) through industrial unions, the oligarchs at once remove both the issues and the political pressure. 'Workers, persuaded that their interests are served not through politics but through "collective bargaining," not through the exercise of their political power as citizens but through the economic power of an economic organization, are to that extent shunted out of politics, like trains switched from one track to another. The willingness of millions of citizens to act for themselves becomes sharply impaired, for men do not take readily to politics when politics appears irrelevant to their most immediate concerns. This is the primary function of industrial unions-to make politics appear irrelevant to millions of citizens.

Although trade unions now and then talk about "trade union democracy," the ability of union members to control union officials is virtually nil. This is because every condition that makes self-rule possible, let alone a reality, is lacking within most trade unions. The essential condition of self-rule, in a trade union as well as a political community, is that members can act together independently of their temporary rulers. For such acting together, however, the unions provide no mechanisms, no forums, no necessary conditions. It is the leaders, not the members, who control the money, the patronage, the union jobs, the union meetings, the union press and all sources of information about union affairs. It is they who control the union's electoral machinery and in many unions actually appoint the committees that nominate candidates for union office. The union chiefs, in short, have everything an elective despot needs to secure his despotism, including an ideology which makes opposition itself anathema, since any serious opposition can be readily denounced as disruptive of solidarity, injurious to union power and treachery in the face of the enemy (the management is always vehemently "anti union" in trade-union propaganda). The ability of trade-union members to control trade-union officials goes counter to everything in the trade-union creed and runs athwart everything in the trade-union structure.

This is why trade-union democracy" is so transparent a farce, why most union chiefs reign uncontested for decades and readily pick their own successors. Of all the self-perpetuating oligarchies in the world, none can so easily perpetuate themselves as the chiefs of the trade-union organizations. In taking industrial workers out of the hands of the monopoly capitalists and putting them into the hands of the union chiefs, the party oligarchs merely shifted them from one system of indirect political control that failed to another system of control that thus far has succeeded. That, in essence, was the "New Deal for Labor."

The trade unions' usefulness to corrupt power does not end there, however. By putting millions of citizens into an empty economic bag, the oligarchs not only shunted them out of politics, they put them under the control of organizations with every interest of their own in keeping them out of politics. Thwarting the free political activity of union members has been the central policy of trade-union leaders since the emergence of trade unions. This policy the trade unionists once practiced quite openly, since it is absolutely justified by the trade-union creed. Political activity, as the old AFL leaders rightly insisted, was injurious to trade-union organizations. The divisive clash of political opinions weakened union solidarity; political action weakened loyalty to the union; political hope distracted members from the "real" issues of trade unionism-the effort to secure better wages and other benefits through collective bargaining at the workplace. What a strong union requires is members who are politically apathetic, who do not hanker after beneficial laws, who seek only improved contracts for themselves, who are imbued, in the argot of trade unionism, with "wage consciousness." Although the union chiefs themselves were neck deep in machine politics, the rank and file were exhorted to mind only union business.

Because ample leisure, too, is a prerequisite of political liberty, trade-union chiefs' efforts to secure increased leisure for their members have been largely negligible and pro forma. The forty-hour, five-day factory week was achieved by the end of the 1930s. After three decades of trade-union "leadership," the work week for factory workers has remained exactly the same, while the new movement for a four-day week has arisen, significantly, among unorganized workers who do not have "powerful" trade unions to speak for them.

[The] antipolitical policy of the trade unions-no politics for the members, corrupt politics for the union-culminates in the trade unions' long-standing opposition to general welfare legislation. Every such law ... arouses political hope and undoes overnight years of union efforts to inculcate political apathy and narrow wage consciousness. More importantly, every beneficial law renders union members that much more independent of their trade-union organizations, which can only hold on to their members if they appear to be the sole source of economic benefits.

... it is a great advantage to labor that American citizens receive grossly inadequate old-age pensions because this makes union members dependent upon, and grateful for, union pension plans, many of which are outrageously corrupt.

As official members of the liberal wing of the Democratic machine, however, trade unions cannot openly oppose welfare legislation any longer, but such legislation remains, unalterably, a union-busting device. The union's secret opposition to reform, therefore, parallels that of machine liberals in the Democratic party. They protect the power of the Southern Bourbons who defeat the measures the unions must now pretend to favor.

... It should be glaringly obvious why the party oligarchs created and now sustain the "trade-union movement." Here is a vast and wealthy organization whose interests are absolutely identical with those of the party oligarchs. Like the oligarchs, the unions are determined to control and degrade free citizens, to render them politically inert, divided and ignorant to disguise from them in every way the relevance of politics to their lives, to cripple their capacity and willingness to act in their own behalf, to see them-and all citizens-bereft of protective and beneficial laws and of the very hope of winning them. Here is an organization whose leaders are so absolutely dependent on corrupt power that they will scruple at no act 0f political corruption. Yet they will serve corrupt power with a clear conscience-as faithful servants of the trade-union creed. From the point of view of republican self-government a trade-union chief is absolutely corrupt; from the point of view of trade unionism, he is absolutely honest. This is why, at bottom, the party oligarchs created trade unions-political liberty is the ' enemy of both.

At this point a question properly arises. If the trade unions are so eminently useful to the party oligarchs, why were the latter so long reluctant to organize the major industries? 'Why did they wait until necessity forced their hand? The reason for this lies in the very fact that industrial unions are a fraud upon millions of citizens. The risks involved in perpetrating such a fraud were-and still are-considerable. If the fraud ever failed, the oligarchs would be worse off than ever. They would have encouraged industrial workers to organize; they would have taught them the habits of cooperation; they would have provided them with a mechanism-dues-for amassing large sums of money. Should union members ever clearly realize that their unions are worse than useless, they would have no alternative but free politics, and they could turn to it with considerable advantages-their money, their organizations, their local union forums. This is the last thing the party oligarchs would want. They had every reason to be reluctant and to act as they did only when it became necessary, that is, when they had to take responsibility for industrial wages. As long as the oligarchs entrusted the monopolists to determine wages, they opposed industrial unions (company unions excepted). As long as they did so, no industry could be organized, trade unions having no power to organize a major industry against the wishes of the political powers.

Since trade unionism is a fraud, the essential labor policy of the party oligarchs is aimed at keeping union members from realizing it. This effort consists in giving support and credence to all the fraudulent claims and pretensions of the trade-union ideology. The oligarchs do this in great part just by serving their own interests, which are identical with the unions. Trade unionism claims that citizens who labor have no hope save in unions; the oligarchs make good the claim by their constant endeavor to blast public hope. Trade unionism claims that workers can only win benefits through unions; the party oligarchs prove this by constantly trying to thwart general reform. Trade unionism claims that politics is largely futile; the oligarchs constantly try to make politics appear futile. However, the oligarchs must take more active steps to maintain the "trade-union movement."

The essential fiction-the fiction of union economic power-the oligarchs perpetuate by the universal pretense that it exists. Wage benefits are funneled through industrial unions. The unions' claim that they win these benefits is simply never contested by anyone in public life. It is the perfect bipartisan lie: conservative Republicans deplore union power, liberal Democrats extol it. It is nonexistent, like the difference between a conservative and a liberal machine politician. To convince workers further that the unions wield economic power, the major corporations, at the oligarchs' behest, also play their indispensable part. While collective bargaining goes on behind closed doors, labor and management try their best to contrive the appearance of a genuine tug-of-war, a real pitting of strength against strength. Given that charade of struggle, management's ultimate "concession" to union "demands"-which almost always matches the government's wage policy-becomes the trophy of victory which the union chiefs bring back to their rank and file, whose only influence in all this consists of the genuine fear of the oligarchs, the unions and the corporations that they will get fed up with their unions. This fear occasionally brings industrial union members a slightly larger wage increase than the wage policy calls for. Disgust with their unions is the only power union members have and it is based entirely on the oligarchs' fear of their unused power as citizens. On the other hand, union solidarity makes the rank and file totally powerless, exactly the reverse 0f the tradeunion creed.

To help keep union members convinced that their unions are their best representatives, the oligarchs also help sustain a second major trade-union pretense, that the unions actually wield independent political power. Since it is impossible to render twenty million Americans totally apathetic politically, the fiction of union political power is the perfect way of diverting them from acting on their own. Every four years organized labor submits a list of reforms to the Democratic national convention, which duly incorporates these "demands" in the party platform, thus demonstrating the power of the unions in the councils of the Democratic party. Trade-union leaders are cosseted and pampered, their influence at the White House constantly paraded before the membership. The AFL-CIO's rubber-stamp conventions are invariably addressed by exalted officials. The most blatant union truckling to the Democratic machine is invariably described as the Democrats' truckling to unions. This is yet another perfect bipartisan lie: liberal Democrats extol this nonexistent union influence, conservative Republicans deplore it.

In our own time the essential pretext for union adherence to Democratic party has been built on the Taft-Hartley Act and is equally spurious. Since the Taft-Hartley Act effectively compels employers to bargain in good faith according to the definition of good faith laid down in thousands of administrative decisions of the National Labor Relations Board, it is,(as I said) the culminating victory for trade unionism, its true Magna Carta. The union chiefs have been attacking it ever since; indeed they had to, the allegedly "crippling" effects of the measure being their basic alibi for economic impotence. They could scarcely admit that Taft-Hartley gave them everything when the result is that they are nothing.

... In 1965 the heavily Democratic House voted to repeal one provision of the Taft-Hartley Act, the hated, though quite inconsequential, section 14(b), which authorizes states to pass right-to-work laws. Since the Democrats had no intention of repealing that provision (it serves as the unions' excuse for not organizing in the West and the South), they conveniently killed the repeal measure in the Senate. This was done by allowing Senator Everett Dirksen to play the indispensable Republican enemy and filibuster it to death. Though the filibuster could have been broken easily by round-the-clock Senate sessions, Democratic Majority Leader Mike Mansfield refused to call any as a matter of "principle." Vehement efforts by the trade unions to punish Mansfield, the Senate Democratic leadership, the Bourbon opponents of repeal and machine Democrats who support Southern Bourbons are, of course, nowhere in evidence. Repeal of Taft-Hartley would be a disaster for the trade unions. On the other hand, Western Democratic Congressmen who vote against repeal of 14(b) are mercilessly hounded by the unions when the Democratic bosses give the signal. The trade unions support legislators who pretend to oppose a law they have no intention of repealing and attack those who oppose repealing a law which the unions have no wish to see repealed. So much for the trade unions' nonpartisan politics. Like everything else in the trade-union creed, it is absolutely fraudulent.

... trade unions are absolutely corrupt, a condition which Lord Acton attributed to absolute power but which in their case is inseparable from absolute impotence. Beginning with the proposition-doubtless sincerely held at first-that free politics in a free Republic is no business of a worker, that self-government is inherently a sham, that real power is always economic, the trade unionists have demonstrated what happens to those who act upon ideological fictions. They become the servants of those who strive to make self-government the very sham which the ideology claims it to be, namely the prevailing wielders of corrupt, usurped power. This is the real lesson 0f trade unionism. Those who will not fight for political liberty, who do not make the enhancement of liberty and self-government their principle and goal, will end up as the bulwark of the enemies of liberty and of the usurpers of the citizens' constituted power. The trade unions did not become stagnant. They did not betray their early promise. They were born dead, and the only tragedy 0f trade unionism is the waste of brave men who mistakenly believed in it.


The Rule of Caprice

The political consequence of bureaucratic rule-the rule of caprice-provides the key to grasping its political significance. Because a bureaucracy can, through its scope for caprice, produce results which bear no connection to law and lawmakers, the results of bureaucratic rule appear to be the consequence of no political deed and the responsibility of no political actor. They will appear to just happen or to constitute a general trend, reflecting the effect of social forces, historic laws or the providential hand of God. For the wielders of oligarchic power, the advantages of ruling through bureaucracies are clear.

Perhaps the most important example of the politics of bureaucracy is the oligarchs' creation of the major Federal bureaucracies-the regulatory agencies and commissions, the Federal Reserve Board and the like-to sustain and enlarge the monopoly system.

The American people's historic opposition to monopoly is beyond all dispute. Since the birth of the Republic they have registered that opposition in innumerable ways and in major legislation. "The nation's commitment, embodied in the antitrust laws, to competitive pricing," to quote former Chief Justice Earl Warren, means that the oligarchs can only maintain the monopoly system in defiance both of fundamental law and of long-held republican principle. To do this openly is beyond their political capacity. Moreover, to maintain the monopoly system openly would destroy the central myth of Big Business, namely that the economy we have was self-created and, in consequence, is self-sustaining.

Such being the case, virtually every regulatory agency is charged by law not to support monopoly, but, on the contrary, to maintain "fair competition" in the industries they regulate. In practice, however, regulatory agencies work to destroy price competition. As Kohlmeier demonstrates in The Regulators "they are the nemesis of competition as defined by the anti-trust laws and the Department of Justice." The reason the regulatory agencies can defy the law is precisely their scope for caprice, which was deliberately bestowed upon the agencies by the party oligarchs to carry out their monopoly policy. The Congressional oligarchs do this by giving the agencies the authority to carry out the laws' stated purpose while leaving the means to do so unspecified. Claiming that the means are merely technical, Congress gives the agencies full discretionary power to decide the technicalities themselves.

Since the regulatory agencies bring about their results-securing the monopoly system-in defiance of the express purpose of law, the link between politics and monopoly is broken. The oligarchs' determination to maintain the monopoly system is masked; the monopolists' very need of governmental protection is hidden, so much so that when corporation spokesmen bluster about government "interference," people actually take them seriously and conclude that regulation is anti-Big Business. So well does bureaucracy hide the political character of monopoly that it appears to be an economic phenomenon independent of political deeds and determinations. The monopolization of the economy truly appears to be the result of economic laws so imperative that the "efforts" of the lawmakers to curb it invariably prove unavailing. Yet it is the lawmakers who deliberately subvert their own efforts, and it is bureaucracy which now enables them to do so-regularly, secretly and with virtual impunity.

The relation between bureaucracy and government intervention strikingly illustrated in the case of the farm program brought into being by Roosevelt under the Agricultural Adjustment Act. This was, of course, a drastic intervention in the economics of farming, carried out for the professed purpose of solving the farm problem and rescuing the nation's farmers from their chronic plight. In fact the New Deal farm program was-and remains-nothing of the sort. The farm program was not an effort to save the nation's farmers but to get rid of them. That was the oligarchs' real purpose: to solve the farm problem by consolidating agriculture.

What the oligarchs did was embed their real, undisclosed farm policy in the farm bureaucracy itself, which has become, by the deliberate determination of the party oligarchs, a virtual machine for driving small farmers from the land, which it does, in and year out with the remorselessness of a juggernaut.

By hiding the political determination o that expulsion, however, the farm bureaucracy completely masks the oligarchs' responsibility for it. The expulsion of small farmers appears to be not an expulsion but part of a long-term trend which ideologues of one sort or another attribute to industrialization, monopolization, mechanization or whatever plausible cause they can concoct. So far from being blamed for the disappearance of small farmers, the oligarchs are often lauded for their titanic, costly but futile effort to save the farmers from their preordained fate. Such perversions of reality breed yet more wretched perversions. Judging by the oligarchs' alleged efforts to save small farmers, many social commentators now write learned nonsense about "the myth of the small farmer" in America. According to their view, the farmers' mythical republican virtues have led to a sentimental cherishing of the family farm. In fact the party oligarchs have cherished the small farmers the way a tank cherishes a flower bed and precisely because the myth is not so mythic after all. Since the Civil War, at least, the most unruly, the most independent, the most republican of American citizens have been the small farmers whose fate was sealed by a law purporting to save them and by a bureaucracy set up to kill them off.

The fundamental principle of republican education, as Thomas Jefferson said, is "to enable every man to judge for himself what will secure or endanger his freedom." Republican education presupposes that schoolchildren are future citizens, no more and no less; that republican liberty is always endangered; that the ambitions of usurpers must always be resisted; that free politics is the necessary business of every free man; that the fundamentals of republican education must, in consequence, be made available to every child. The central principle of the educational establishment is to presuppose the very opposite - like the party oligarchs, the educators use the republican standard their unfailing guide to what not to do.

Since free men cannot judge for themselves what endangers their freedom if they believe it is never in danger, it is the chief burden of the public school curriculum to persuade children that their liberty is always secure. This is accomplished easily enough. The dangers to liberty to which Jefferson referred derive from the ambition of would-be usurpers, those who would rob the citizenry of their voice in their own government. For that reason, he insisted, the study of political history-the history of men's deeds-must be the heart of republican schooling. By studying the political deeds of men, of Catiline and Cato, of Cromwell and King Charles, the future citizens of the Republic would "know ambition under all its shapes and [be] prompt to exert their natural powers to defeat its purposes." Such being the case, the school managers have virtually prevented students from studying political history. Insofar as it is taught at all, the ambitions of usurpers are omitted entirely; in the typical American history textbook, every public leader is a faithful servant of the people; only foreign rulers in the distant past had unscrupulous political aims.

Since even gutted political history still discusses the deeds of men, the school managers have tried to eliminate political history entirely. Its replacement in our time is "social studies," whose original pedagogic purpose was to imbue students with a "socialized disposition" and other virtues deemed necessary for industrial society.

It is ... a fundamental principle of republican education that every future citizen, regardless of social background, must be given a republican education and an equal opportunity for advanced education. The very reason for free public schools, as Jefferson said, was to help ordinary citizens overcome the natural advantages of birth and wealth in the endless contention for political eminence. America's professional educators have been trying to get around this ever since it became apparent around the turn of the century that the great mass of American children would soon be receiving secondary schooling.

Preventing them from learning anything once they got to high school has been the abiding endeavor of the educators. As Woodrow Wilson himself advised: "We want one class of persons to have a liberal education and we want another class of persons a very much larger class of necessity in every society, to forgo the privilege of a liberal education and fit themselves to perform specific, difficult manual tasks." The "much larger class" to be shunted into the then new vocational and industrial curricula were, needless to say, the less affluent. As J. E. Russell of Columbia Teachers College remarked in 1905: "How can we justify our practice in schooling the masses in precisely the same manner we do those who are to be their leaders?" Only by the republican principle of the equality of liberty which the educational establishment was bent on betraying. Hence, said Charles Eliot, president of Harvard, in 1908: "we come upon a new function for the teachers in our elementary-schools and in my judgment they have no function more important. The teachers of the elementary schools ought to sort the pupils; and sort them by their evident or probable destinies," a hypocrite's way of saying their family backgrounds. Since this "new function" was a direct betrayal of republican principle, the educators eagerly seized on the Frenchman Alfred Binet's Intelligence Quotient tests, which "proved" scientifically that the masses were congenitally incapable of acquiring a liberal education in high school. The IQ tests not only gave the school managers their pretext for sorting by family background, it allowed them to blame their betrayal of future citizens on the victims themselves. "They put themselves in the scrap heap, not us," as a professor of education once put it.

To make sure that the children of the poor lack every possible educational advantage, the educators have been busy, too, denying them elementary literacy. About thirty years ago the educators virtually abandoned one method of teaching reading-by means of the alphabet and phonetics-which succeeded throughout the world and replaced it with the so-called look-say method, which was supposedly psychologically superior. Although this new method proved a failure even before it was introduced, it had for the school managers one irresistibly attractive property: it failed best among those children, generally the poorest, whose parents do not teach them the alphabet at home. Having adopted a reading method that handicaps the impoverished, the educators now blame illiteracy on their students' impoverished backgrounds, just as formerly, during the reign of the now discredited IQ tests, they blamed it on their inferior germ plasm.

)no benefits from teaching America's children that they are chiefly future employees and jobholders, that America is not a Republic of self-governing citizens but an industrial society of workers, that institutions "evolve," that political ambition is nonexistent and politics irrelevant? )no benefits from illiteracy and semiliteracy among the mass of the poor and oppressed, from ghetto schools so degraded that Harlem schoolchildren think the police make the laws? )no benefits from teaching future citizens that their liberty is never endangered from usurpers? Who benefits, quite obviously, are the prevailing political usurpers. Between present-day public education and the abiding interests of the party oligarchs the identity is virtually absolute and describes American public education even in minute details. In a country whose people supposedly worship the Founding Fathers, the writings of the Founders-the most masterful republican political analyses in political literature-are not seriously studied. In a country whose greatest man, Abraham Lincoln, said we must love our country, not merely because it is ours but because it is free, our schools teach flag worship and jingoism (flag ceremonies were approved by the National Educational Association in 1896, the year of the Populist revolt) and call that education for citizenship. "There's richness," as Dickens' Mr. Squeers observed while passing out watered milk to his students.

The point, I believe, is made. The close congruence between the educators' policies and the oligarchs' political interests is no coincidence. The educational establishment is not autonomous; its judgments are not professional judgments; it does not control the schools. Like every autonomous bureaucracy and every other professional bureaucracy, it is the two-faced lackey of the party oligarchs. It is they, not the educators, who control the nation's schools, and the public schools we have are the public schools they have given us. It was by bureaucratizing education, by wresting control of education from the suffrage of local communities through teacher-licensing laws, accreditation laws, state education commissions and the massive consolidation of school districts beginning after World War I that the oligarchs gained control of the Republic's schools. It is by means of bureaucratic caprice that the oligarchs have been able systematically to betray longheld republican principles of education, including the most fundamental one, that the public schools must be kept independent 0f the prevailing political powers. It is by operating the schools behind the facade of a professional bureaucracy that the oligarchs hide their control of the schools, for like every other bureaucracy, the educational establishment serves to mask the political determination of results, the results in this case being the degraded public schools of the Republic.

Woodrow Wilson
"The masters of the Government of the United States are the combined capitalists and manufacturers of the country.

Indispensible Enemies

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