John-Birching the School

Recreating (and advancing) pk’s censored domains: & / Teaching / Society / NoHier / DDD / Deschooling / “Rants” /
@K. 2000 10 04

John-Birching Church … School …

Inventing a new use for an old term: John-Birth: for a minority to wage guerrilla warfare against an institution the majority sees no harm in.

My Social Pathologies module on Law and Order argues that kleptocratic law and order is a front, a stalking horse, a cover for theft and fraud: it means that the Jews “order” the Canaanites, the Romans order the Jews, the WASPS order the spicks … The WASPS and Romans don’t have to obey their own laws: they are the law. (It would be hard to think of how many more ways the Constitution could be violated than Nixon did right from the White House.)

My Social Pathologies module on Legitimacy argues that everything in a kleptocracy is legitimate: by magic. All the kleptocratic legislators have to do is write a law that says so.

Religions, with no authority other than Hope, promise that someday (in another life) there will be justice. In this life, justice is whatever happens in the Justice Department. They got a rubber stamp that says so.

A college roommate of mine moved back home on graduation. A visit decades later proved this devout Catholic to have teamed up with the local rural “radical” Catholics (a very different breed from the urban radical Catholics that founding FLEX exposed me to (see Illich). These radical Catholics, when not smearing blood on abortionists, believed that the true Pope had been abducted by the Church and some puppet put in his place. Crazy? Sure. But when was it ever also not true on some level? Christianity has it that the Temple of Jerusalem was run by thugs misrepresenting God: God’s supposedly true representative got worse than mugged by them. I believe that the legitimacy of the United States, if there ever was any, lasted about three minutes: till the Whiskey War. If there was any legitimacy left by the time of “Vietnam,” or of Nixon, there certainly was none after.

What legitimacy — genuine, not kleptocratic — do schools have? My scrapbook of notes on School’s Purpose offers additional reverse-engineering of school’s true purpose (links to my Academic Bestiary (pk School Stories) where I marshal evidence from my personal experience, all too typical, that schools hobble both honesty and intelligence while promoting and licensing fraudulent puppets). I repeat these points throughout my home page and will until I see some evidence that someone gets them. (Or till I croak: then you’re out of luck.) (Except that nature keeps producing occasional honest, intelligent, dedicated, fearless … human beings despite kleptocracy and its governments, churches, school systems …)

The Big Picture:

The Jews said they had the real God.

Then the Christians said they, the Jews, didn’t; they, the Christians, did. (Wasn’t that also a kind of theft?

Did the Christians steal the Jews’ God? Oh well: for all I know the Jews stole him in the first place.)

But how about the subversions of theology as well as scholarship practiced by the Church if not from day one, then certainly from the time of the Nicene Creed? The Church (churches: Roman and Byzantine) called honest inquiry “heresy” the way Eugene McCarthy branded every non-robot a “Communist”. The Church based its authority on St. Jerome’s Latin translation of the Greek Bible. When old MSs for the Septuagint were newly found, the Church made the study of Greek (how else could you read them?) a capital crime! No evidence in this regime, please. Then they threatened Galileo with torture: because he had new evidence as well as new arguments. So what “true Pope” can my old roomy possibly have in mind?

John Birch
I’m not much on politics, but someone once explained to me what a “John Bircher” meant:

the Birchers said that Capitalism was already at war with Communism: the official US just didn’t see it.

Crazy? Sure. But there’s a level of truth there too. (Presuming you imagine that there’s such a thing as “Capitalism” arrangeable on one side and “Communism” on another. In truth, all kleptocracies are capitalist, elements of communism creep into all of them (even if it’s just communism among the barons: federal bailouts for drunken barons like Chrysler; none for the multi-deracinated descendants of slaves).

Since history won’t permit any rational definition of God, we can concede that this word, so ambiguous as to be meaningless, has any number of unchallengeable representative: Jews, Jesus, Christians, Muslims … The claim can’t be tested: so who can deny it? I say that god, a concept I do “define” has no representatives: except …



If you’ll qualify only human representatives you might count Galileo, Fuller, Bateson, Prigogine, Diamond, Illich … and me. (What the majority of that short list has in common is a history of being thrown out of kleptocratic institutions, as well as having their stuff stolen by those same institutions. Fuller’s geodesics were stolen by the US Army. The egregious internet doesn’t even credit Illich or me while it subverts our ideas.) (It’s the demands of rhetoric, not truth, that keeps these lists short.)

OK. Now I want to John-Birch schools: making “John-Birch a transitive verb.

The schools are worse than worthless; the world just won’t admit it. I was never a political Bircher. I was never a Communist (except insofar as I once thought I was a Christian: a would-be sharer). I never opposed Communism any more than I opposed Capitalism. Hell, I now and again embodied capitalism. But I’ll now be a John-Bircher for the quality of learning. Say you’re a Christian in the Second Century CE. Your parents send you to the “priest.” He tells you not to lie and so forth. Fine. Now say you’re a “Christian” in 1350, or 1450, or 1550 … You’re sent to the priest. He says don’t lie. …

Wait a minute …

You’re a brand new US citizen in August 1776. Your representative says, don’t steal. OK. What we just stole from the natives and from King George doesn’t count. What we stole from nature we’re not even aware of. Let’s not laugh in his face: not yet. (And what we stole from the “savages” whose Great Law of Peace we plagiarized in our Constitution … savages have no right to civilized ideas.) (You have to be a “Christian” to understand that logic.) But a citizen in 1780? In 1932? In 1968? In 1974?

The scholars who defied the Church’s death sentence and studied Greek anyway formed the universities of the Renaissance. They eked out their living selling exposure to the rare MSs they’d dug up. They were an alternative to the Church’s view of things. The Church had the monopoly on what could be said about scripture; the universities made sure that that monopoly did not extend to non-scripture. But now that modern church, the State, monopolizes what can be said about everything! There is no alternate view. Information is managed. By the brainwashed brainwashers, for the future brainwashed brainwashers.

And it doesn’t matter what the Constitution or the Law says: the law has no meaning other that what behavior is actually tolerated, subsidized: proscribed or punished. One banned book, one interrupted speaker, one impoverished scholar falsifies the whole caboodle.

Ivan Illich proposed an alternative to universal brainwashing. I offered to implement it. Others also soon appeared. Store all public learning resources on computers: give all publics uncensored access to it: as a publicly funded institution. No: not just “citizens”; anybody. No, don’t let members of the public monkey with the main frame; let them ask a techie, let the techie get it for them: just like a library where stack privileges are not universal, but library privileges are: you can get the book; you just may not be allowed to get it for yourself: endangering the entire commons. (This was before PCs, remember.)

I took what Illich said one (strongly implied) step further: data base everything. One free informational institution (politically free: obviously the infrastructure has to cost something) could out-evolve not just schools but newspapers and governments. (Also note: a “real” democratic government would have thought of all this two seconds after cybernetics were first explored. None did. Now no government has any rights in the matter.)

I never heard of Illich until the first Deschooling article arrived at my doorstop, headlined in red, on the front page of the New York Review. Whatever date that issue bears (somewhere around 1970), actual delivery was typically a week or two early. I was however already engaged in many of the same issues.

On the one hand:

1. I may have feared that the schools were evil on my first day of kindergarten. I knew it by the fourth grade. I didn’t regard it as mattering much in public school because no one takes the public schools seriously. It mattered enormously at the university level, particularly at the doctoral level.

I hated school in practice And in principal: compulsory schooling in a “free” society?

2. Philosophically, Illich’s diagnosis fit right in with my doctoral thesis.
Abelard said that there are no universals; only particulars Those who said that only universals were really real won the war. (Temporarily: always temporarily.) Scholastic “Realism” triumphed over “Nominalism”.

Authority is based on universals. But the universe is filled with particulars. All we can actually see with our eyes are the particulars. Besides, the authorities cheat. Everyone by Chaucer’s day knew that. (It was still incredibly audacious to say so.)

Chaucer’s Wife of Bath said she’d take experience (evidence) over authority. Shakespeare’s sonnets follow suit and pit reasoning and emoting by universals (resonating with authority) against actual experience with actual particulars: a girl friend with syphilis. The Fair Love sonnets come first (in the only version we know). They are the most moving, genuinely. The Dark Lady comes last. Sure we get high: then we have a hangover. Only after the hangover do we suspect something was wrong with the high. Resurrect the medieval Scholastic controversy and you can reason it out: our ideals are bullshit. The wrong side won. (Temporarily.) We light a candle in church; at home we flick a switch. The switch works because of Abelard, not because of his tormentors. It works because of Occam, not Aquinas. And Shakespeare dramatizes the whole thing. Right below our level of consciousness.

My professors heard me. For years. Repeated when it counted, they just interrupted and insulted me. Insulted the entire intellectual enterprise. Gee, I thought Chaucer’s Wife of Bath’s Tale was about “the wo that is in marriage”. (It’s true the professor had asked me about the tale, not the Prologue. She interrupted me before I could get to it.)

When Luther realized that the Church was getting things wrong, he challenged them. Protestants are John Birchers against the Church. The Church has no authority: the Church cheats. Better to be dead, murdered by the Vatican, than to be a priest. Christians are John Birchers against the Temple of Jerusalem. God gave you a chance: and you blew it. Illich is a Catholic Luther. He’s a priest, but still: he challenged the Church. “If the Catholic Church wished to become Christian,” he said, “It must

Give up its property


Deprofessionalize its priesthood.

I tailored his remarks to my “church” but delivered the remarks not to that church but to its parishioners: the public. If the United States (or any kleptocracy) wished to become democratic, it must

Give up its property &

Disestablish schools and deprofessionalize teaching.

The courts today continue to advance a great deal of credibility to experts: meaning people with degrees. I say that having a degree Post Illich, Post FLEX is like being a priest after Luther (or after Jesus, or after Francis …) After Jesus (if the story is true), Jews should have been too embarrassed to be Jews to admit it (unless they’re saying that the story is not true.) After Abelard, after Galileo, after Luther … after Illich, Catholics should be too embarrassed to be Catholic to admit it. (What true Pope?) After the Whiskey War (if not after everything before it), after Sutter … after Vietnam … Americans should etc. And after pk, courts should be too embarrassed (to be courts) … At least too embarrassed to admit degrees as anything but grounds for suspicion of dishonesty if not outright stupidity. (Was my medieval professor really stupid? Or was she just pretending? Either way, my other professors showed solidarity with her Anti-intellectualism. We don’t want no real scholarship in this degree factory.

Walter Reed’s detractors can always gang up on him in his own life time: it was a minority of doctors who were willing to imagine a connection between bugs and disease. Most doctors could conceive of no relations between their filthy hands and sepsis in a wound.

First we had a contract out on Einstein, then we deified him. How many geniuses got shouted down without ever getting brushed off and put in a museum like Van Gogh? With FLEX, the society could have been truly mapped. For the first time. Ever.
The war is old, very old. People are just too dishonest and too stupid to see it.

See also Math.

Keywords deschooling, FLEX, John Birch Society, church, school, network

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About pk

Seems to me that some modicum of honesty is requisite to intelligence. If we look in the mirror and see not kleptocrats but Christians, we’re still in the same old trouble.
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