/ Social Order / DeCentralizing / Deschooling /
Fly Paper Schools
2016 08 07 First the school compels you to attend. Then if it wants to keep you it entices you to stay. Then it may reward you to stay, representing the school’s cosmology. But if you draw any maps of the universe not reinforcing to the school’s orthodoxy, the school can leave you trapped, forever; or leave you high and dry, with as much chance of making your own living as a beached star fish.
Schools are so that people who don’t understand what the thinker has said supervise how he says it.
It’s the same with the courts: the law is so that people who don’t understand what the thinker has said supervise how he says it in court.
Suckers for Schemes of Salvation
First I just block out some territory of this piece:
Humans have filled up the biosphere, rather past carrying capacity, because, wisdom tells us, we have better adapted to our changing environments (and because we’re the ape that’s sexy all the time). But what have we done? Whereas immature humans explore their circumstances — learning through play, adult humans try to change their circumstances. Foolish pk joined that minority who have tried to change everything.
Freedom a Sinking Ship
The entrance says the “this free information theme embodies the modern agon (struggle) between central authority and decentralization. FLEX’s experience would seem to suggest that decentralization is losing; not so: decentralization is just aborning.”
I’m reminded of an experience at FLEX from 1972. Publicity was accelerating, more volunteers were showing up. One guy wanted to put his shoulder to the wheel. I was candid with him about funding strategies. He said, “Gee, I’m not sure I want to get aboard a sinking ship,” and got off the phone.
A new movement, a new revolution a “sinking ship”? Where did he get that idea?
It took a while before I figured out what had happened. The caller wasn’t looking to help; he was looking for a job! He wasn’t a young revolutionary, a soldier, a kamikaze; he was a Yuppie. His interest was just a mask for his self-interest. He wanted an income: security. He should have called Metropolitan: or AIG: billions in assets.
The web’s libertarian.co.uk (The Libertarian Alliance) posts a 1993 article by David Botsford: Ivan Illich and the Deschooling Movement.
Botsford wisely advises that we read the deschoolers. Funny thing is: though it’s clear that Botsford has read Illich’s Deschooling Society with sympathy and penetration, I didn’t see one hint of evidence that he’d read “the deschoolers”! His article was about Illich and about Deschooling: it was not about the Deschooling Movement. I saw not one hint that he had read FLEX publications, for example. I saw not one hint that he was aware of yours truly Paul Knatz’s work or that of my contemporary, Denis Detzel (of the dozens of other deschoolers whose clearinghouses sprang up around 1972, 1973: in our wake as it were). I didn’t even see evidence of acquaintance with the Illich colleagues who (to the best of my knowledge) didn’t offer to map their communities: Dennis Sullivan, for example: or any of the CIDOC regulars: Paul Goodman, Everett Reimer …
By the way, I précis here points already stitched throughout this directory: When I volunteered to slave to help Illich network the communities, he mentioned Denis Detzel to me. He gave no address, no phone number: only mentioned Northwestern. Denis had known Illich and followed him before I came aboard. Detzel was the guy who’d told Illich he’d do the actual networking scut-work. My inquiries via Northwestern got no responses. I proceeded on my own, only later leaning that Detzel had started the Evanston Learning Exchange within a month or two of my foundling FLEX. Dates are misleading here. Detzel was a deschooler before me, but had he gone public before me? I don’t think so. And communications among other deschooling and this deschooling have never been good. Perhaps communications have never been good among deschoolers, period. Ironic, right?
Knatz.com has been claiming since its birth that I, Paul Knatz, am the first person to offer networking to the public. On the one or two occasions when a listener has said, “Oh, you invented the internet!”, I haven’t equivocated: accepting their statement however phrased. I authored no machine protocols. I tele-ported no machine messages: other than by using the phone (or mailing something typed or lithographed). Illich put the concept together. He recommended networking. But he declined to be actively involved in actually trying to administer it. He sold the idea of a free institution. Denis and I (independently, alas) tried to launch the institution itself. But, to the best of my knowledge, Denis’s Learning Exchange offered to network Evanston. My FLEX got at least one (mass) mailing from them. The Evanston Learning Exchange and all such exchanges that had identified themselves to me (roughly a hundred by 1974) got all of FLEX’s mailings … And, when their coordinator (my term for a network CEO) asked for my advice, I wrote to picture the day when the whole world would be networked by the interconnections of local network. No federal authority: just Illich concept on the one hand and networked networks on the other: a constitution and a net-net; but no police force: no Force. If it can’t work because everybody wants it, everybody pay the cost, everybody cooperates, then it can’t work. It can’t be Made to Work.
Well: it didn’t work. People didn’t pay the cost, people didn’t cooperate. I didn’t even get answers to my correspondence from said “coordinators.” The networks didn’t map their communities and they didn’t network among themselves. What we had was a hundred or more clones “founding” networks.
You invented the United States? Oh, good. Now I think I’ll invent the United States.
No. Illich painted networking. I tried to construct it. Illich should get all the theoretical credit (crediting his colleagues such as Heinz von Forrester the while). Denis, I, and perhaps a very few others should share the legwork credit, me I believe being mentioned first). I should get all of the credit for the idea of “inter”-networking the networks. Those who kept the habit of coercion, those who educate via stolen funds (taxes) may have all the blame.
2003 04 10 Illich follower John Quintero recently visited me. He says that John McKnight (I hope I have the name right) took over the Evanston Learning Exchange and that he’s still doing something with it there in Illinois. Wow. I hope it’s true.
Another image occurs to me though for the immediately preceding: Imagine that Einstein was known for Relativity and also that his mentioning an atom bomb to Roosevelt was known: now imagine that thirty years later people were speculating about atom bombs, talked about Einstein, but never mentioned, never interviewed Oppenheimer! never talked to Richard Feynman! never heard of them! Or imagine people talking about flying and discussing Leonardo without knowing a thing about technology as pursued by the Wright Brothers!
Theory is wonderful. Nothing great happens without theory: but how about practice? People read the anarchists and libertarians IN PRINT without turning over a leaf to study the libertarian actions in the field, out in the grass: the roots.
Could what didn’t work in 1970, 1971 … now work in 2002?
I doubt it. I think it’s too late. I think the reason to study deschooling is so we’ll understand how we defended hell when invited to leave. Having insisted on staying here, there’s now no way to get out of it. Commercial interests have us more strongly in thrall than ever. There is no FLEX network functioning apart from my mind: while the internet sold us by MicroSoft and IMB has no combined the worst feathers of broadcast television with the giddy obsolescence planned by Detroit.
And we can’t legislate our way out.
Our bombs are useless in this situation.
But realize: All the information that Yahoo or Google gives you is but a fraction of what you could have had thirty odd years ago: without banners, without animations, without any cursed Sesame Street Brought-To-You-By … You might have had to walk or pedal a half a mile to get it, but then once micro-computers were introduced, there’s no reason they couldn’t have developed around FLEX as the core.
Realize this too: Fuller talked of the public voting directly on issues before Illich penned Deschooling. FLEX programmers should have easily been able to design vastly better vote counting systems than that in place in Florida for the last Presidential farce. But if the public could vote on any and every issue, what would we need “representatives” for? Why should there be an executive? Let the public take its own pulse: and then leave it alone.
There was an impressive menu of Illich texts on-line at http://www.preservenet.com/theory/illich.html. Since Illich’s death, a lot of stuff has been taken down; others, like me, have put stuff back up.
A Deschooling discussion has just commenced at Deschool@yahoogroups.com. The moderator can be reached at JewishCo1@aol.com.
I’ll post there while it’s on: you could too.
Come to think of it, I’ll cc my postings here. [Yahoo link]
I’m just checking my links on-line, using my old Mac Power PC and Netscape 4. I get a PreserveNet message that my browser does not support frames. Imagine the poor kid in Bangladesh going to the public library and asking for a pamphlet on growing your own food in the public gutter. Oh, yes we have that, says the library, but you can’t see it: you’re not being chauffeured in a Rolls!
The new institution of the internet quickly found ways to undo its promise. FLEX would inevitably have found ways to screw up too: doesn’t everything. But I’d rather live with the mistakes of the convivial-ists, friends of Jesus, “unflinching Jeffersonians” … than be screwed over by the corporations: Proud to Be Rapacious.
2005 01 04 LewRockwell.com posts an article by Richard Wall, A Turbulent Priest in the Global Village.
A couple of correspondent’s linked me to it. I post my response to the second of them. FLEX was my response to Illich; Deschooling is my response to the world’s not responding to FLEX.
2016 08 17 Richard Wall and I seemed to be becoming friends, him the pursuer, but something chased him away. (I suspect it was Lew Rockwell: the truth and his history are incompatible.)
Some data may have gotten lost, so what else is new?