Category Archives: Education

A Word on Teachers


The below is from the comments section of this post by Swithun Dobson. Aside from the layout making it a challenge to read, I found it highly enjoyable. It’s an important article. It’s an important issue. And if articles like this are not written or read or shared then things like this will happen without our even noticing them. I then thought about my own schooling. Not private, but state schooling. I don’t know all that many people who went to private schools, but the general feeling I get from those who have experienced both is that a) private schooling is immeasurably better, but b) that it can succeed in being rather more subtle in its indoctrination or dumbing down than state schooling. The replacement of that subtlety itself may indeed be imminent. Anyhow, what I’ve just said may be rubbish and what I write below actually has very little to do with the article in question. However, Sean thought it warranted a separate blog post and so this is it. I have omitted some of it and expanded in parts. 

Those of a certain age who perhaps attended a grammar school and have done moderately well ought to be forgiven for believing that, while the state system is now grossly inefficient and obviously dumbed-down, the students have never had it so good. They, after all, didn’t get the leisure that children have today. And the computerisation of at least one lesson per week cuts down on the amount of writing they are obliged to do. Not only this, but those on the outside of a state school are under the frequently given impression that the lessons are “fun”, the teachers are “caring”, and that the continual research into the special and varying needs of some students has made all “equal in opportunity”.

Continue reading

Education: Another Step to the Total State


by Swithun Dobson

Independent Schools: Arms of the State

The Proposed New Independent Standards for Schools (PNISS) https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/322296/Consultation_Document_23_6_-_independent_school_standards.pdf are a bigger threat to educational liberty than the National Curriculum and will effectively mean all independent schools will become arms of the state.

Here are the most egregious passages with some brief comments. Continue reading

A Good Man Is In Court Today


by Dick Puddlecote
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/DickPuddlecote/~3/VG2RH-hBR8U/a-good-man-is-in-court-today.html

A Good Man Is In Court Today I’ve written about this before, so am encouraged to see someone standing up to a new law applied in an unnecessarily heavy-handed fashion.

A couple who took their children out of school so they could have their first family holiday in five years risk being jailed after refusing to pay fines introduced under controversial new laws.

Stewart and Natasha Sutherland will appear before Telford Magistrates’ Court tomorrow after they took their three children to the Greek island of Rhodes during the school term. Continue reading

The Great Reading Disaster


Book Review by Sean Gabb
The Great Reading Disaster: Reclaiming Our Educational Birthright
Mona McNee and Alice Coleman
Imprint Academic, Exeter, 2007, 341pp, £17.95 (pb)
(ISBN 9781845400972)
(Review published in The Quarterly Review, Winter 2007)

This book narrates and explains one of the great disasters of our time. As is often this case with disasters of our time, it also narrates and explains a scandal that in earlier ages would have provoked incredulity. Its theme is the collapse of educational standards in this country, and how this has been brought on by a persistent unwillingness to teach children to read using the only methods that are known to work in the great majority of cases. Continue reading

The Libertarian Alliance Christmas (sermon): I did want to say something positive, but I can’t. Sorry.


David Davis

Well, this is Christmas, I guess, and time goes around and comes around, and it seems like five minutes ago that I wrote the LA’s first Christmas Message on this blog, six or seven years ago. I’m not sure that there’s much else new to say from that time, but the Chimpanzee Type-Writors in the Blog’s freezing, damp Nissen-Hut must at least pretend to keep up appearances.

On every day and in every way, our rulers (do we need such people, really?) conspire to push us further and further down the outfall-pipe. It’s actually very depressing to be alive in Britain in 2013, knowing that one was being born some number of decades before, in a country which, while less blessed with the planet’s offerings, was at least less unfree in most ways.

All I’d really like to say to Libertarians this Christmas is that I think we are running out of time. It’s slipping by us all fast and I don’t know when there might be another time. I’m certain I said it before, possibly last year and the year before that and the year before that: it’s quite fortunate that statistNazis are rather inefficient and take longer than they might, to do what they need to do. Even Enoch Powell said once: “be of good cheer: for the rot has set in, but it will take quite some time”. There are some choices now open to us, as follows:-

(1) We can continue to try to “influence debate”, by publishing, by some of us (not enough to make a difference) going about having eggs and turned-off-mikes thrown at us in universities and on radio stations and in “Conservative” gatherings and meetings and stuff like that. We can continue to do that thing. But I don’t think anyone that matters, or is on our side, is listening. The ones not on our side will simply delete the file they got sent for airing, or turn off the mike when we get too near the truth.

(2) We can espouse “activism”, but all this will do is get us imprisoned, possibly for ever for we are right, and out families broken up, our computers “taken into local authority-care”, and our children “seized for hard-drive analysis”. As a strategy, this will therefore avail other people nought. The trouble is that we have been shown time and time again that “activism” pays, since people like Nelson Mandela, Gerry Adams, the dead pigs Castro and Stalin, the other dead leftist pig Hitler (he got lucky while young) and Ho Chi Mhinh “got into government”. But I don’t think any living Libertarian conservatives are willing to pay the price or are even young enough to see it redeemed.

(3) Each of us can build an “armoured library”. How you all do this is entirely up to you. It needn’t even be armoured, so long as you didn’t tell policemen, who’d of course tip off scumbag mobsters to come and accidentally burn it as soon as it was convenient for (them).

Sorry to be so depressing this year. It’s no use getting excited that “over 145 people” got to see the lecture at (somewhere or other) by “Dr Human Hope”, the really really articulate and perspicacious founder of the “freedom free thingy”, at some place or other, and which several hundred Libertarians from at least “20” countries attended. Nor, even, that his lecture got “published on the internet.

Merry Christmas: the time has come to face reality. Nobody’s really interested enough in liberty – either for themselves or for others, and certainly not for others – for us to make a difference any more.

I’m not saying we should give up and die. Just that we must not expect victory, for we shall not get it.

Armoured Libraries and survival of culture and law


David Davis

Various prominent British libertarians seem now agreed that The Endarkenment approaches. The signs have been increasingly clear for some time. The fact that liberty is the mother of order and not its daughter is inconvenient for those that mean to boot the vast majority of Mankind – except themselves – backwards, cruelly, painfully and hard into pre-enlightenment misery, starvation, disease and servitude.

Being a scientist myself by training and thought-modes, and therefore by definition not an intellectual –  I have never figured out why humans get to want to bring about – and worse, specifically for others than themselves – what I described above.

It always seems after careful analysis of their plans, that they would like to visit upon the whole of humanity what Churchill described as “the torments that Dante reserved for the damned”.

[Incidentally, I think that "intellectual" (the noun) is is a mere imaginary literary concept, applied by primitive pre-scientific mystics to themselves and their friends who still work according to neolithic non-tribe-male-skull-crashing theories of how to behave towards others, and are driven by emotion and wishful thinking. This may become the subject of another discussion, but perhaps I may accidentally have defined "conservatives" as definitely not these people. We shall have to see, when I have time to try to write something again.]

Various commenters on recent postings here have said things like this, and this, and this. In the darkness however, someone said this, and Continue reading

Diversity by Decree


You Looking at Me?


by Robert Henderson
http://livinginamadhouse.wordpress.com/2013/11/08/you-looking-at-me/

Note: This may be an irrelevant aside, but I’ve long suspected that the differences in philosophical and scientific achievement between the European and other peoples are partly caused by differences in writing. The Greeks and those they influenced developed fully alphabetical writing. This has two advantages. First, it means that the effort to become literate involves learning just a few dozen symbols, rather than many thousands, thereby promoting an emphasis on analysis rather than memory. Second, it promotes, by analogy, an atomistic approach to thinking – the understanding that ideas can be separated into their most basic units. When you must spend your early years learning thousands of symbols, most of which may have only an arbitrary resemblance to the things they signify, there may be a greater tendency to respect past authority, and a reduced ability to conceive or show interest in or judge between new ideas.

The Greeks are obviously The Exceptional People. Their achievement hardly needs describing. The Egyptians, though ingenious, were rigidly conservative and unenquiring. The Jews and Syrians, with their imperfect alphabets, were – until they fell strongly under Greek influence – somewhere between. The Egyptians became a properly intellectual people when, with their adoption of Christianity, they gave themselves an alphabet based on the Greek.

Coming into the modern world, alphabetical peoples have been the most successful. Indeed, the real intellectual improvement of the Oriental peoples may owe something to word processing software, which requires its users to enter idiographs as combinations of Roman letters, thereby importing a kind of atomism into their thought processes.

It may be, as Robert implies in his essay, that the initial choice between alphabetical and idiographic styles is – regardless of the superficial accidents of adoption – an expression of innate predispositions. But, once the choice has been made, it will surely have immense further effects. The example of the modern Japanese, and of the Egyptians before and after they adopted their alphabet, shows the great influence of writing style on thinking. SIG Continue reading

I was reminded of “The Final Solution”


David Davis

Driving near Bootle this morning, I spotted a van of “some firm or other” (I can’t remember sadly what – and there was a police car nearby so I couldn’t lift my phone and photograph it) that said on its side:-

WORKING  WITH  COMMUNITIES  TO  DELIVER  SOLUTIONS

Since we have “Fake Charities”, whose site is at http://www.fakecharities.org ,

then perhaps someone should set up a site called

http://www.fakecompanies.org

I bet you all 5p that “WORKING  WITH  COMMUNITIES  TO  DELIVER  SOLUTIONS” gets about 100% of its revenue, to a first approximation, from the State.

Queen Elizabeth-the-Useless failed in the execution of her Coronation Oath. But I expect we will all cry sincerely when she passes on.


David Davis

I am not always precisely in tune with my colleague Sean Gabb, regarding the failings of Elizabeth-the-Useless. Although he is quite correct in stating that she _could have_ blocked Rome, the SEA, Maastricht, Amsterdam, Nice and Lisbon at any time when these were issues. On any one of these – and the earlier the more chance of success – The Queen could have refused to assign her signature to any of this pretentious socialist rubbish, could have forced a General Election, and prevented the Franco-Collectivisto-Gramscian re-Nazification of Europe, saving her own subjects hundreds of billions of Sterling, not to say even trillions, in the process. We might even have got our managed-fisheries back before they were destroyed utterly (ask my father, who worked in the 70s for the MAFF, and who is now dead.). And at least up to Nice, she might also have got away with it. It would have been wise to resist early on.

But she continues to continue to soldier on, probably because she reminds the masses of their favourite great-aunt (I also have one, my aunty Betty who is actually a real aunt for I am rather old now and who even looks and sounds like the Queen a lot, and is only slightly older) or Grandmother.

As the Queen is old, and as she is a woman, and as it is not suitable to impeach or charge women for high treason – at least not “directly” – I would like to cleave to the position that “The Queen has been very, very badly advised, continually, for 61 years, in the matter of her constitutional dealings with the Continue reading

While looking for shooting stars tonight


I’ve just come back in from looking for shooting stars. My 10 year old daughter was with me, and together we saw 6 in half an hour. We also saw at least as many satellites. All on polar orbits. I’ve been stargazing on and off all my life. I remember noticing a drop in the number of observed satellites after the end of the Cold War. Now there are more than before, it seems to me. While we were outside, my daughter mentioned that her (state) primary school teacher (who trained as a secondary school maths teacher) had told her class that our sun is the largest star. My daughter had raised her hand and said that’s not right, there are loads of stars that are much much bigger (she’s seen comparisons on YouTube). The teacher replied, apparently: Not in our galaxy. Oh dear. I pointed vertically upwards to Vega and told her that star is one of our next door neighbours, you can see the Milky Way behind it. It’s about twice the size of our sun. Just saying.

I suppose it’s alright to mention that her teacher is female. She was, after all, challenged by another female.

The good is oft-interr-ed with their bones


David Davis

Since Margaret Thatcher is to be in-terr-ed tomorrow, I just thought we’d throw one last punch at her enemies and ours. I found this wonderful piece on The Last Ditch the other day, and one para deserves to be highlighted in our usual way:-

“If you want to know who freedom’s enemies are, mention her with approval. Mad eyes will light up all around you and foul sentiments will fill the air. Note their names and never leave them alone with anything you value; material, spiritual or ethical.”

Yes of course, I _know_ that we object to her having

(a) made the British State more efficient – as a recipe for disaster one would recommend this since the British-Political-Enemyclass is efficient already at making a powerful tyrannical state, and

(b) because she failed to absolutely destroy socialism at home and in the world, before members of that same EnemyClass destroyed her.

But I think that Tom Paine’s paragraph sums up who we are up against, whatever we as classical liberals think of Thatcher herself. I think we can lay her to rest now. May The Iron Lady Rust In Peace.

Sean Gabb on Home Education


 Home Schooling: A British Perspective
Sean Gabb
(Chapter 13 of Homeschooling in Full View:
A Reader, ISBN 1593113382)

Home schooling can be loosely defined as any education provided otherwise than by formal schooling outside the home. Such education may be provided by parents or guardians, or by tutors engaged by parents or guardians. So defined, home schooling has a long history in England. Continue reading

In the Corporate-State Education System, You’re the Product.


by Kevin Carson
In the Corporate-State Education System, You’re the Product.

http://c4ss.org/content/17910

The following article was written by Kevin Carson and published on P2P Foundation, March 27th, 2013.

The current educational system is essentially a Taylorist-Fordist mass production system, organized on a batch-and-queue basis, geared to supply a uniform, standardized and graded input for corporate employers. According to Cathy Davidson (“Standardizing Human Ability,” DML Central, July 30, 2012), education Continue reading

The intelligence of erudition


http://livinginamadhouse.wordpress.com/2010/11/09/the-intelligence-of-erudition/

The intelligence of erudition
Robert Henderson 

There is phenomenon which anyone who has gained a substantial knowledge of a subject may recognise: it is the point at which a qualitative change in understanding appears to occur, where connections are effortlessly made between disparate pieces of data and a general understanding of the whole emerges. This is not a conscious process but an emergent property of the accumulation of information. Is that IQ ability driven? It is clearly different from the type of ability quantified from the exercises which comprise IQ tests, but equally it is not the simple application of learned information to solve a problem. Moreover, the phenomenon arises with all types of data. Einstein could not have developed his theories without his learned knowledge of the way the physical world worked both at the level of his personal experience and through absorbing the scientific discoveries, thoughts and mathematics made and developed by others. Similarly, the mechanic develops an “instinct” for what is wrong with an engine through the experience of tinkering with many engines. Continue reading

Jury Nullification: A Barrister Writes


by Howard R. Gray

Juries have a duty to try the case according to the law: this is trite. The judge is the tribunal of law, and the jury is the tribunal of fact: that is the simple rule of how criminal law works, and also just as trite. Judges in England are allowed broad scope to direct juries on the law and often put forward their views of the facts usually pre-seasoned with the exhortation that it is “up to you ladies and gentlemen of the jury” about any particular point they deem in need of comment.

That being said, there is a plethora of rules that they must use to put to a jury about particular points of law and about the standard of proof that must always be there in their directions. For example the “you must be satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt” and “satisfied so that you are sure”, then they go on to give examples. There are the Turnbull directions on corroboration of witness testimony and so on. Each factual element that has a contentious nature must be directed upon in the judge’s homily to the jury at the end of the trial. Failure to adequately direct a jury can result in the verdict being set aside on appeal. Jurors needn’t be too worried that justice will be denied; appeals are often successful. Continue reading

Flexischooling


Letter sent to my MP:

Dear Charlie,

I am writing as your constituent, and as the parent of a child at a school in your constituency, to complain about the Government’s change in the policy over flexischooling. This is the practice of letting children receive part of their education in school and part at home.

The change in policy is summarised thus on the DfES wesbite: Continue reading

Why is the State Involved in Childcare?


by D.J. Webb

Women are forced out to work by house prices. This is the real subtext to absurd plans for the state to pay £2,000 to each working woman for childminding. With high taxes and council tax, high transport fees and high childminding bills, it is hard for women to make work pay — and the only result of their trying to do so is to push up the income on which mortgage loans are calculated, thus supporting the property Ponzi scheme. Continue reading

Minds Like A Sponge, So Get ‘Em Young


by Dick Puddlecote
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/DickPuddlecote/~3/q9TQOkLR_QI/minds-like-sponge-so-get-em-young.html

Minds Like A Sponge, So Get ‘Em Young After a few months respite, I was beginning to think that state educational silliness had been left behind now my two have left primary school. It has come thick and fast in the past couple of days, though. Continue reading

“The Last Ditch” ventures inside The Door Of Hell, and manages to return


David Davis

The grand-challenge-cup award for brave man of the week is to go toTom Paine.

What is “Wireless tele-Vision” for? Discuss.


David Davis

[late edit...] [ I have suddenly wondered to myself what it's for, given that the global % penetration of small handheld (or not much larger) devices that can access news, comment, blogs and the opinions of millions, is approaching a majority. ]

One the one hand, the British Political EnemyClass has created what it seems to be admitting is a monster - this says “ban television for the under-threes” (or words to that effect.) Yet on the other hand a modern repressive police state would be a more difficult one in which to manage thought-control, regulate the opinions of, and generally farm for eliciting the “correct public responses” without this machinery. I have drafted a few of my own thoughts, rather fast this morning, in response to a typical Daily Mail mob-hysteria-inducing breakfast-article.

Of course, an invented device can’t be uninvented. The Wireless Tele-vision [WT] (and quickly also with post-receive injected sound subcarrier) was a marvellous development of the pure Sound-wireless, but like all technologies it’s been stolen and corrupted, Morgoth-style, by governments for their own purposes.

In the British State’s case,  WT’s purpose was to anaesthatize and render uncurious “The Masses”, over decades so nobody would notice except Continue reading

One down…only a few million to go


David Davis

The foul Marxist pig Hobsbawm is dead, I am advised. As the nominal “blogmaster” of this chimp-typist-filled nissen hut, it falls to me to write an obituary for the bugger. This thus brings a little cheer to an otherwise drizzly day.

What a seriously foul, repellent and wicked man this Hobsbawm bastard truly was. Basking in the uncritical, almost sexually-driven, adulation of his almost equally-repellent Marxist peers and (worse) his students, he sat on his butt in the West, looking and acting the superior intellectial “thinker: all the while pontificating languidly to all, about the essential rightness and morality of the gigantic Marxist-Leninist-Stalinist open-prisons of the Communist bloc.

It is such a tragedy, an abiding one yet, that his tracts are staple material for vulnerable British students at our universities, not to mention our (too many) “universities”. Worse still, he features prominently on the A-level Philosophy and Politics courses, a matter which I regard as promoting child-abuse.

I really am so pleased the bastard is dead. His departure gains me nought, but the planet is a cleaner place.
Actually, thinking about the disgusting old fellow, I just want to shout….”KNICKERS!”

What are Chinese colleges like?


by Tim Swanson
http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/thelibertarianstandard/~3/o6FeKnxez5E/

For roughly three years I had the opportunity to live and work at two colleges out here in China. I could describe any number of observations but one that sticks out at this time is the role the Communist Party plays in curriculum. Continue reading

Libertarian Self-Marginalization


by Kevin Carson
http://c4ss.org/content/11798

Go to the average mainstream libertarian venue on any given day, and you’re likely to see elaborate apologetics for corporate globalization, Wal-Mart, offshoring, Nike’s sweatshops, rising CO2 levels, income inequality and wealth concentration, CEO salaries, Big Pharma’s profits, and Microsoft’s market share, all based on the principles of “the free market”–coupled with strenuous denials of all of the perceived evils of corporate power because (as Henry Hazlitt explained at some place or other in PDF – Economics in One Lesson) the principles of the “free market” won’t allow it. Continue reading

My education manifesto


by D.J. Webb

1. Privatise the whole education system
2. All teachers’ salaries set by the schools
3. A voucher system instituted allowing parents choice, but the vouchers set at a level that does not cover the full cost of education (e.g. requiring a top-up co-payment averaging 10% of the cost of attending an unglamorous school from the parents, and much larger top-ups to attend better schools). Unmarried mothers with five children would still have to find a certain sum for their children’s education. Continue reading

All around is fire, and yet the buggers won’t leave the burning building


David Davis

These are very interesting times. The Euro is toilet-paper, Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Ireland and Cyprus are really absolutely quite fully-bust, Germany’s central bank is saying “sort yourselves out”, and yet….and yet….

This country’s government has already given £14 billion in aid to a currency that we don’t belong to, were nearly bullied into joining, and have no interest in….and furthermore, it says “there is no popular support for a referendum on the European Union”.

The current shift of Chimpanzee-Type-writers in the draughty Lancashire Nissen Hut is really not sure what to make of this. Or perhaps they are: When this government (or any for that matter) says the magic word “The People”, it probably means “the people that it has victoriously elected in the latest round of _people’s elections_ “, which is to say: itself.

I don’t recall any recent polls asking about the EU that said anything other than a clear majority of the British People would like to leave it. Does anybody else have any different information?

As Brutus said…”I pause for a reply”.

The Libertarian Party UK and the Politics of Courage


Hello Sean,

Although I understand your argument, I believe freedom and liberty are not an excuse for truancy. I like you am against state imposed education, I was both state and privately educated, and truancy was not accepted in either system. Indeed my view and that of the Libertarian Party UK is that there should be a voucher system, so parents and children can choose between progressive and effective state schools, free schools and private education. If this were the case, many would opt for private education, state education is very wasteful and generates negative income to the exchequer. Private schools are efficient, achieve results and have a positive impact on the exchequer. Continue reading

Truancy and the Total State


Libertarian Alliance News Release
Release Date: Monday 16th April 2012
Release Time: Immediate
Contact Details:
Dr Sean Gabb, 07956 472 199, sean

Truancy and the Total State

The Libertarian Alliance, the radical free market and civil liberties institute, today condemns proposals by the British Government to deter truancy by cutting the child benefit of parents whose children absent themselves from school. Continue reading

Nadine Dorries MP and the Quest for Sexual Abstinence


by Sean Gabb

I have just heard that Nadine Dorries has withdrawn her Sex Education (Required Content) Bill. If passed, this would have required schoolgirls to discuss abstinence in the classroom. The summary of the Bill taken from the UK Parliament website is as follows: Continue reading

Dear me, the BBC at the anti-capitalist-sauce, again….


David Davis

I couldn’t just let this one go: the subliminal message just chimes in so well with today’s British-State GCSE/A-level “Geography” “syllabuses”. Everyone probably believed it wholeheartedly – it was said on the “Telly”… After all, the “educationists” who produce the syllabus-twaddle just love maundering on about TNCs based in MEDCs exploiting the Pull-Factor among MDPs in LEDCs.

You couldn’t make it up: the use of so many acronyms guarantees the unemployability of any British-State-geography student in any capacity other than a Soviet Metropolitan Council planning department.

Reclaiming Anthropology for Science: A Libertarian Approach, Edward Dutton


Reclaiming Anthropology for Science: A Libertarian Approach
By Dr Edward Dutton

http://www.libertarian.co.uk/lapubs/scien/scien017.htm


Abstract

Scientific anthropologists tend to argue for the veracity of their approach and assume that the most logical approach will ultimately reclaim the discipline from postmodernists and extreme-naturalists.  This article advocates scientific anthropology but stresses that being logically coherent is only part of the process of scientific revolutions.  It demonstrates that anthropology is broadly in the grip of those who are implicitly religious—not rational—and then presents a libertarian manifesto on how anthropology—in practical terms—might be returned to the scientific fold.

Introduction

The aim of this research report is to look at how scientists might begin to reclaim social anthropology from the anti-positivist and especially the postmodern tradition which has risen to some prominence within it.  The article is, I fully concede, a series of suggestions and possibilities but I think that advancing such possibilities is useful in setting-off what I see as an important debate abut anthropology’s future.  The arguments advanced are suggestions but they are justified because they attempt to answer a significant question asked—but as yet not satisfactorily answered—by scientific anthropologists.  Persuaded of the veracity of scientific anthropology, ‘Where do we go from here?’

Accordingly, this article is an exercise in practical philosophy.  Based on the premises that anthropology should be scientific—as we will discuss—in order to meaningfully assist in developing more nuanced theories of human nature and that it is potentially useful in this regard, and, moreover, the premise that civilization is required for science to flourish (see Popper 1966a/b, 1963, Sandall 2001), what practical action should be taken to return anthropology to the realm of science?

Anthropology and Science

Physical anthropology is the study of the evolutionary origins of humans.  To a great extent, this remains a science.  Social—or cultural—anthropology grew out of physical anthropology in the nineteenth century.  Beginning with tribes or folk life, it attempted to record and to scientifically understand what are commonly called ‘cultures’, often underpinned by a belief in at least partial biological determinism.  This discipline began by drawing upon sources—‘armchair anthropology’—but by the 1920s it was becoming accepted that anthropologists should engage in fieldwork (‘participant observation’) and so produce ‘ethnographies’ (see Gellner 1995, Ch. 1).  But it has moved away from its scientific origins.  From the 1920s, scholars such as Margaret Mead (1928) began to argue that all cultures are equal, can only be understood through their own terms (cultural relativism), there is almost no hereditary influence on personality (cultural determinism) and so the anthropologist’s duty is to describe and preserve the culture.  Cultural determinism was pulled apart by Derek Freeman’s (1983) refutation of Mead’s shoddy research in Western Samoa, which purported to show a ‘negative instance’ in terms of teenage angst.  This shattering of anthropological orthodoxy—by a ‘scientific’ outsider—plunged anthropology into crisis but, even by 1983, Mead’s form of anthropology was being criticised from the postmodern perspective as well.

Accordingly, there has developed a divide in social anthropology between those who believe that social anthropology should be ultimately underpinned by science—and so evolution—and the ‘naturalists’, who do not.  American anthropologist Lawrence Kuznar (1997, 176) argues that the discipline of social anthropology—even more so than other social sciences—has been drawn away from science and towards being a form of replacement religiosity.  ‘Anthropology must be seen to be thoroughly rent at this point,’ he laments, ‘with its own practitioners deconstructing it in an intellectual civil war which threatens to balkanize, if not totally destroy, the discipline forever . . .  Scientific anthropologists seem holed-up in defensive citadels while postmodern and critical factions have taken the field and are beginning to snipe at one another’ (211).

In his book, Reclaiming a Scientific Anthropology (Kuznar 1997), he provides ample evidence for this summary.  A ‘crisis of representation’ began, in social anthropology in around the 1970s in which all of anthropology’s fundamental assumptions came to be questioned and some have insisted that anthropology remains in this state of crisis (e.g. Rees 2010a).  Hymes (1974) criticised anthropologists for imposing ‘Western categories’—such as Western measurement—on those they study, arguing that this was a form of domination.  Asad (1973) criticised field-work based anthropology for ultimately being indebted to colonialism and it has been argued (e.g. Sandall 2001) that this has led some anthropologists to focussing on their own psychologies, and their fallibility as scientific instruments, more than their observations.  Andreski (1974, 109) might counter that this reflects ‘methodological perfectionism’ as does the essentialist1 demand that anthropological concepts be dissected in detail to the neglect of actual analysis.2  The instruments of physical science are also fallible as is a zoologist in relation to that which he observes.  Others drew upon the postmodern deconstruction of texts to argue that anthropology was ultimately composed of ‘texts’—ethnographies—which can be deconstructed (e.g. Marcus and Cushman 1982).  By extension, as all texts—including scientific texts—could be deconstructed, some anthropologists began to accept that reality itself was tenuous and only ‘within the text.’  Indeed, for anthropologists such as Wagner (1981) there is, in effect, no objective truth.  All attempts at constructing reality are subjective responses to the ‘culture shock’ caused by the cultural ‘other.’  Watson (1991, 79) is explicit that there is no objective reality.  Anthropological accounts are ‘constitutive of reality.’

Other scholars have pursued postmodern deconstruction by questioning anthropological categories.  For example, Rees (2010a) is sceptical of ‘culture’ because it has a starting point in history, plays down nuance, is static, and imposes a Western category on the other . . . but this is, of course, true of all categories of apprehension.  In the nominalist tradition, they are to be used cautiously if they are helpful (see Dennett 1995, 95) and to term such categories ‘reified’ or ‘essentialist’ is really a straw-man argument.  Equally to suggest that the changes since the 1980s have been so radical that culture is no longer useful fails to understand the broad anthropological definition of the word and that, for a nominalist, words can be malleable and employed as and when useful.  Some argue that ‘representation’ and ‘theory’ are problematic (e.g. Rees 2010a) but fail to appreciate that any description is inherently an act of representing and even language is underpinned by some kind of theory (see Gentner 1982).  They may counter that understanding arrives ex nihilo, in the break-down of fieldwork, but this seems closer to religious understanding than scientific (see Wiebe 1999).  And Denis Dutton (1999) observes that other social scientists reflect postmodern influence with scholarship that says very little but is verbose and makes use of intellectual-sounding jargon such as, in anthropology, ‘reified,’ ‘emergent,’ ‘problematised,’ ‘discontinuities’, ‘agency’ and so on3 as well as fallacious arguments, such as that ‘culture’ should be dismissed because it is old-fashioned or too popular (e.g. Barth 2002).

The problems with postmodern anthropology are fairly clear as Gellner (1992) observes.  Its cultural relativism is hypocritical, best summarised by Richard Dawkins (2003, 15) with the lines: ‘Show me a cultural relativist at 3000 feet and I’ll show you a hypocrite . . . If you are flying to an international conference of anthropologists . . . the reason you will probably get there, the reason you won’t plummet into the ploughed field is that a lot of Western, scientifically trained engineers have got their sums right.’  It is also inconsistent because it attempts to use the logic of Western science to question the usefulness of logical reasoning itself.  Its extreme essentialism—in radically deconstructing categories of apprehension—leads us to a situation where we cannot begin to understand anything so postmodernism, as Scruton (2000) puts it, takes us into a void of Nothing where we can understand nothing.  It is epistemologically pessimistic.  And as Bruce (2002) argues it makes many ideological assumptions; for example that all cultures are equal or that colonialism is inherently wrong.

Edward Wilson (1998) argues, in my view persuasively, for Consilience of the various academic disciplines.  In summary, he maintains that knowledge is reached both by fragmentation—in the sense of reductionism in order to gain purchase on an object of study—but also, crucially, by reconstruction.  We are witnessing an ‘ongoing fragmentation of knowledge’ (8) as we divide into innumerable subdisciplines and ‘consilence’ would consequently be positive for scholarship.  Consilence is metaphysical but the ‘success’ of science provides a strong case for its veracity and, indeed, Kuznar (1997, Ch. 3) gives examples of the proven success of scientific anthropology above its naturalist competitors.

Wilson (1998) notes that ethics, social policy, environmental policy and social science are clearly closely related domains yet they stand apart with separate practitioners, modes of analysis, language and standards.  The result is confusion with regard to the areas of overlap yet it is here ‘where most real world problems exist’ (10).  Wilson therefore argues that these specialists must, and can, reach an agreement on standards of abstract principles and evidentiary proof.  He then proceeds to prove how humanity and social science explanations are ultimately question-begging (and, in some cases, simply ideological) and fully make sense only with ‘consilience’ into biology and psychology.  Wilson’s idea has been criticised with critics citing a belief that a ‘rational society’ is not the same as a ‘scientific society’ but it has been countered that these critics then use ‘science’ as their ultimate model for a rational society.  Wilson has also been criticised for an idiosyncratic view of ‘the Enlightenment quest’ but this does not undermine the logic of consilience (Segerstråle 2000, 360-361).

Consilience characterizes scientific enquiry.  It must be possible to reduce research in a particular discipline down to the discipline which ultimately underpins it.  This is an important sign that a discipline is scientific.  ‘Science’ must also involve certain agreed characteristics.  Lawrence Kuznar (1997, 22) argues that these are the following:

  1. It must be solely empirical.  If a discipline is based on unprovable or inconsistent dogmas it is not scientific and if it places something—such as ‘empathy for informants’—above the pursuit of truth it is not science.
  2. It must be systematic and exploratory.
  3. It must be logical.  This means, in particular, that fallacious arguments, such as appeal ad hominem, appeal to motive or any other form of rhetoric must be avoided.  It also means that the research and arguments must be consistent.
  4. It must be theoretical, it must attempt to explain, to answer questions and, where possible, predict.  In this regard, it engages in nominalism and only cautious essentialism.
  5. It must be self-critical, prepared to abandon long-held models as new information arises.
  6. Its propositions must be open to testing and falsification.
  7. As it wishes to be falsified and as anybody can, in theory, do so; science should be a public activity.
  8. It should assume that reality is actually real and can be understood; it should be epistemologically optimistic.  Accordingly, it must accept that there is an objectively correct understanding of how the world works which can be discovered.

Rees (2010b, 900) has defined science as ‘thoughtful, sincere research’ but this is so broad that it would not distinguish science from art.4  If we accept Kuznar’s model of science and that anthropology, to be logically coherent, must be part of it then it is reasonable to ask ‘Where do we go from here?’ and this is how Kuznar (1997, 11) ends his book.

Religion, Science and Paradigms

Kuznar accepts that social anthropology has become dominated by what he terms the latter-day ‘religious’—those who fervently hold to inconsistent, illogical views, what Bailey (1997) terms the ‘implicitly religious’.  Despite the veracity of scientific anthropology, it has been pushed to the sidelines and, indeed, Kuznar observes that Kuhn’s (1963) model of scientific revolutions accepts that being scientifically correct is only part of a successful scientific revolution.  Once a new paradigm is widely accepted, a form of tribalism will rear its head and there will be a reactionary and irrational response—by those who have built their careers on the new paradigm – to those who attempt to logically challenge it, as observed in the reaction to Derek Freeman’s (1983, 1999) critique of Margaret Mead (1928) (see Freeman 1996).  Andreski (1974) and many others (e.g. Jenkins 2009) have observed the parallels between scientific practice and religion.  Andeski (1974, 249) argues that scientists should be ‘iconoclastic’—relentlessly tearing down that which is widely accepted in pursuit of the truth.  But iconoclastic scientists soon gain a cult-like following of scientists who wish to preserve the new status quo, ironically rejecting the very kind of iconoclastic scientist whom they have originally followed.

Kuznar makes various suggestions on what should be done but this involves little more than repeating that anthropology should be scientific.  This may persuade thinking, critical anthropologists who have only ever been exposed to naturalist or postmodern anthropology.  Kuznar may have rescued anthropology intellectually but he is not being practical.  Anthropology’s takeover by cultural relativists was a kind of revolution.  If Kuhn is right, it may take a counter-revolution to return it to science.  And if Kuznar (1997, 211) is correct then social anthropology is in a state of crisis induced by the postmodern critique.  This ‘crisis’ is, as is widely acknowledged, the most auspicious circumstance for a revolution (see Kuhn 1963, Goldstone 1980), whereby anthropology is brought back into the scientific-fold.  What can be done to hasten it in practical terms?

How to Create a Revolution

Italian revolutionary Antonio Gramsci diverged from Marx’s view that only if revolutionaries take hold of the means of production and distribution can they take power from the ruling class and thence take their place.  Instead, the ‘ruling class’ posit a ‘hegemonic’ ideology which ‘legitimises’ their position.  They then impose this ideology on the populace through their control of the ‘ideological state apparatus’—legal and political administration, schools, universities, churches, the media, the family and the underlying assumptions of popular culture (Giddens 1997, 583).  In general, the revolutionary wants to bring about ‘manufactured consent’ (Gramsci 1971, 215).  The revolution has been truly successful when the ideology ceases to be controversial but, instead, becomes regarded as common sense, as something that no reasonable person would question.  In such a situation, counter-revolutionaries do not—usually—need to be actively persecuted by the state.  Most citizens will regard them as at best laughable and at worst dangerous and treat them accordingly.

So, can such a theory be applied to ‘anthropology’?  With many nuances, I would argue it could be.  Anthropology (and many disciplines) is rendered far more complicated than a nation-state because it is increasingly international and beyond the control of individual nation states which are, in turn, influenced by transnational forces (e.g. Becher and Trowler 2001).  The ideological ‘apparatus’ takes the form of peer-reviewed journals and books, conferences, anthropology societies and anthropology departments.  In addition, the broader non-academic media is an important piece of the apparatus.  The way in which this apparatus works, in terms of power-dynamics, has been discussed, more broadly, by a number of scholars (see, for example, Andreski 1974, Martin 1999 or Welch 2009) and I will summarise their essential arguments.

Anthropologists can influence whether or not dissenting anthropology is published through the kind of peer-reviews which they write for journals or publishers.  As rhetoric-expert John Welch (2009) puts it, ‘Blind peer review can also be a way to abuse privilege.  Someone with a score to settle can do so by using the blind review process punitively.’  Or, if they are journal editors, influence is wielded through the ability to decide whether an article is peer-reviewed at all or whether, sometimes, to over-rule the reviews and this may even done for financial reasons.  As Welch (2009) suggests, ‘Malaria is more abundant today than it ever was, yet medical journals are more likely to publish works about Cialis or whatever other big-money drug funds the ads that keep that journal afloat.’

If they are asked to write books reviews, these can be used as attempts to smear and sink a book with which they disagree for ideological reasons.  Equally, conference organisers can control what kinds of papers are given at a conference.  Scholars will be nominated as reviewers, or editors, because of previous publishing success in journals and books and, indeed, academic positions which they hold, though they were may review papers only tangentially related to their area.  They will in turn be appointed to these positions because of their publishing success and will, if they ascend the academic ladder, be able to control who else works in their department, perhaps on ideological grounds if they wish.  In turn, they will be more likely to be published by academic publishers if they have published in the right journals, hold an academic position and, especially in the case of a PhD thesis, been funded by a prestigious funding body where funding distribution can itself be politically manipulated as can the process of the ‘PhD Defence’ or viva voce.  The distribution of funding is another piece of apparatus which can make or break research and influence.

Finally, a scholar is far more likely to be of interest to the media if he has published academic books and articles and holds an academic position or higher qualification, because these provide him with authority rendering any controversial statements he might make far more newsworthy.  Media coverage will, in turn, affect his academic reputation.

As Andreski (1974, Ch. 1) argues, a power structure is by its very nature conservative.  It is controlled by the dominant ideology and established academics and any challenge to this ideology, or the system involved, is likely to be a challenge to the life’s work, social position and even salary of those in control, a point which Westbrook (2008) makes about postmodern anthropology.  Accordingly, as Andreski (1974, 49) notes, the challenge may come from daring small publishers, less prestigious journals, scholars outside the discipline, popular academic writing and even from publishers and scholars in academically peripheral countries.5

Of course, in practice some pieces of the apparatus are far more important than others.  It is reviewers, writers and editors of the leading journals—and for the leading publishers and the most prestigious funding bodies—who have the real power over the most important parts of the apparatus.  Perhaps it is not unreasonable to argue that the real centres of power are journals published in the USA and Britain and especially American Anthropologist, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute and related journals.  The most significant publishers might include Oxford University Press and Harvard University Press and these might also be amongst the most important departments.

A counter-revolution involves advocates of scientific anthropology taking hold of these organs of influence by effective use of the influence they already have.  Scientific anthropologists should insist on teaching their undergraduates—as part of their courses—about the philosophy of science and be quite explicit with them about the implicitly religious nature of postmodern and cultural relativist anthropology, thus inculcating the next generation with scientific anthropology.  Equally, anthropologists could use their influence in departments to strongly argue against the appointment of potential colleagues who seem to advocate anti-scientific anthropology and employ their influence as reviewers to prevent the publication of anti-scientific anthropology literature and highlight the flaws of that which is published in letters to the editor, critical book reviews (specifically requesting to review books by postmodern anthropologists) and even articles for the popular press and on the internet.   

There are many possibilities for provocative articles in the press which could damage postmodern anthropology.  For example, all practicing anthropologists—or members of anthropological societies—could be invited to a sign a document from which no genuine scientist could possibly demure; stating that they accept scientific principles.  Failure to do so would then be publicly highlighted which would likely be damaging to the reputations of the scholars in question and their departments.  There may be philosophical objections to science but these are no more matters for anthropologists then they are for chemists if, indeed, social anthropology is genuinely a science.  In the Sokal Hoax (see Sokal and Bricmont 1998) American physicist Alan Sokal sent a lampoon of postmodern writing (Sokal 1996) to a postmodern cultural studies journal as a test to see whether they would publish it, which they duly did.  Similar lampoons could be sent to leading anthropology journals.  I suspect—and hope—that many would be rejected but some might not be and, if this occurred, media attention could be brought to this which would accordingly pressure the journals and highlight the fallacies of postmodern anthropology.

The Need for a Libertarian Society

But I would submit that the influence of postmodernism in anthropology is ultimately a reflection of the nature of the society in which the apparatus operate.  Andreski (1974) observes that the dominant discourse in social sciences tends to be the dominant discourse in society at large.  Though social science may influence society, in general it reflects the dominant ideology to a far greater extent than physical science because it is more difficult for physical sciences—with their greater degree of empirical rigour—to be hijacked by the implicitly religious.  Moreover, Gellner (1996, Ch. 1) notes that the various anthropological disciplines have been founded on implicitly religious ideas.  Nineteenth century Western anthropology drew upon the ‘Great Chain of Being’ to assert a racial and even religious hierarchy whereby the Northern European was, in every way, superior.  It was dominated by biological determinism, something which developed into a dogma.  Eastern anthropology developed in the context of small-nation nationalism, assuming that its purpose was to build a nation—accepting many elements of Romantic nationalism—and so preserve and document its folk culture.

Accordingly, postmodern anthropology is part of a broader cultural revolution where the apparatus of power—including politically significant university departments that relate to how we treat and understand people—has been taken over by those in the Gramscian tradition.  As such, scientific anthropologists should campaign, in all countries, for the form of government most conducive to science and I would submit that this would be one without a clear and lauded ‘ideology’ and so not a government in the implicitly religious Romantic traditions of socialism or nationalism (see Scruton 2000) let alone explicit religion.  This may be a form of moderate, libertarian conservatism and Kuznar (1997, 22) observes that science, by its very nature, is libertarian.  Nevertheless, a government of this kind – motivated by a desire for freedom—would not only defend the interests of science but would realise that postmodernists, cultural relativists and the like were ultimately a manifestation of the power of the opposition, of the displaced ‘ruling class.’  Intelligent lobbying would, therefore, be far more likely to persuade such a government that direct or indirect government-funding for research should be based on the degree to which the research is actually scientific.  Academics could be made to justify their research—according to the criteria outlined—and if it were not scientific (or broadly so by contributing to a civilization conducive to scientific practice)6 funding would be cut from the scholar and from the department until it would be financially very difficult to engage in unscientific research.

Moreover, any justification would have to include a summary—written in clear language—making clear the usefulness of the research for an academic in an entirely different area of study.  Evidence of verbosity and jargon would, accordingly, be extremely costly.

Libertarian philosopher Sean Gabb (2007) goes further in a broader manifesto on how to win back England from postmodernists.  He delineates in detail how to destroy—at great speed—what he sees as the semi-totalitarian state which has been constructed in England since World War II and especially under the New Labour Government of 1997 to 2010.  In terms of holding society together, he also implicitly argues in favour of some limited form of ethnicity-based identity (54).7  I would argue that his methods—such as abolishing almost all restrictions on free speech and association, guaranteeing these as unassailable rights and abolishing and destroying all the records of most government departments and commissions and generally making government insignificantly small by privatising almost everything—would aid such a revolution.  However, I would nuance his attitude to education.  He argues that once a libertarian government is elected—assuming it can be elected—all government funding should be withdrawn from universities.

‘. . . we should cut off all state-funding to the universities.  We might allow some separate, transitional support for a few science departments.  But we should be careful not to allow another penny of support for an Economics or Law or Sociology or Government and Politics Department . . . Doubtless, many students will be upset to lose their chance of getting a degree . . . bearing in mind the mixture of worthless knowledge and ruling class indoctrination from which we would be saving them, they would not suffer on balance’ (Gabb 2007, 58).

I would counter that lawyers are necessary in a society governed by the Rule of Law and this is the form of society which Gabb wants as opposed to totalitarian society where the law is enforced unfairly.  Also, all the departments he lists can make a contribution to civilization as long as they are scientific and this is why I suggest that funding should be withdrawn on a case-by-case basis in the manner which I have advocated, though as Gabb is suggesting action to avoid a counter-revolution perhaps such departments could be initially relieved of funding and the issue reassessed in less pressing times.  If universities were to receive no government-funding, then social science departments would be beholden to the interests of benevolent donors.  I would argue that this would only make them as corruptible as if they were beholden to the interests of the government of the day.  This is a problem, of course, but it must be understood in the context of the benefits to science of a relatively libertarian government.  It might be argued that if all government funding were withdrawn from universities then scientific research would likely gain funding from industry and the medical profession, paid for by the public, and so would continue.  There would always be a need for lawyers—so the Law would gain funding from the public and could be self-sustaining.  Such a situation might also see substantial cutbacks in higher education and a rise in ‘independent scholars,’ especially in history, philosophy and so on, whose research could not be corrupted by the desire for promotion and the like. 

And, of course, once anthropology is returned to science a counter-revolution must be prevented.  Welch (2009) argues for radical reform of the peer-review process such that scholarship is published online and continuously updated as it is constantly peer-reviewed.  The form of peer-review which is widely practiced, he argues, is slow, easily corruptible, reliant on a degree of good luck, most journals and publishers who employ it inherently restrict access to science (through expensive, jargon-filled publications which few people read); it is essentially a form of vanity publishing.  Replacing this kind of peer-review undermines the power-base of established scholars but it could only be done once the ‘revolution’ had occurred.  Prior to scientists taking control of anthropology’s major journals, scholars would be unlikely to follow Welch’s idea fearing their publications would lack impact and prestige.  As in my own case, they may also fear that they will not be read by other scholars and so fail to contribute to the debate or receive feedback allowing their ideas to be critiqued and further developed.  Accordingly, to introduce such an idea anthropologists would have to take over and shut down the competing journals.

But the problem is that—for the scheme to work—there would have to be some degree of ‘authority’ involved, such as that potential reviewers have PhDs (the provision of which is corruptible) or books published and that those that run the new system be respected experts.  And scholars will desire a way to sift through all the dross and academic books and journals provide such a means, if not a perfect means, of doing this.  They gain prestige by virtue of the calibre and influence of the people published in or by them and the extent and nature of their readership.  Perhaps this can be achieved by an initial insistence that any submitted article, no matter how bad, is anonymously reviewed in the traditional fashion by two or three recognised scholars, the suggestions at least responded to,8 re-reviewed and further responded to before publication which then occurs even if the reviews are broadly negative.  Once published, all scholars are invited to read it and anonymously send reviews continuously.  Following Welch’s vision, it might be difficult to find the best scholarship other than through a system whereby it was ‘liked’ or cited by eminent scholars, which would not be that dissimilar to what occurs now.  However, the system would make it far more difficult to abuse peer-review (by using it to prevent publication for ideological reasons) and would render a counter-revolution far more difficult.          

More than just ‘good luck’

Kuznar (1997, 224) ends his defence of scientific anthropology thus: ‘Anthropology should centre and orchestrate around a principle theme, the quest for understanding the human condition using scientific principles, yet be tolerant of the discordance that will, in the end, make it rich and meaningful.  I wish the best of luck to us all.’  I partly agree with Kuznar and admire his positive attitude and magnanimousness.  But he also seems to reflect the kind of implicit religiosity which I have highlighted.  Tolerating ‘discordance’ (by which he means postmodern anthropology, creation science and other shoddy research) may ‘in the end, make it rich and meaningful’—in that it forces scientists to be more self-aware and hone the expression of their arguments—but it may sink anthropology and science more broadly because some postmoderns are openly opposed to science.  So Kuznar’s assertion smacks of bien pensant prophecy.  And while anthropologists may need auspicious coincidences, wishing us ‘the best of luck’ doesn’t really help unless you believe in the genuine power of such blessings.

It may help in that it makes Kuznar and, perhaps by extension, other scientific anthropologists seem like very nice people and this, in turn, may make others more inclined to support them.  I’m sure Lawrence Kuznar is a very nice man and his book shows him to be an extremely thoughtful one.  But though being nice may help, I would suggest that the—albeit tentative and brief—manifesto I have suggested may help as well in ensuring that anthropology returns to a quest to understand the human condition and human nature through scientific means.

But, of course, it is tentative and I would welcome the suggestions of other scientific anthropologists on how it might be developed.  Perhaps one of the obvious problems is whether such action is in the spirit of caution and self-criticism which underpins critical rationalism.  Can scientists be sufficiently ‘sure’ to ‘act’ in such a decisive way?

Notes

(1) For Essentialists it is the task of science to describe the true nature of things and thus focus on the definitions of terms.  Nominalists are more interested in understanding how something behaves in different circumstances and they make use of a concept if it is helpful.

(2) As we will see below, this can be a useful means of suppressing dissident research.  A peer-reviewer can simply insist that a category that has been criticised by postmodernists (such as ‘culture’) must be ‘problematised’ in so much depth that there is no space—in the word limit of an article—to engage in actual analysis, forcing the scholar to either give-up on the article or the category which the reviewer dislikes.

(3) Interview with Denis Dutton (2010) with reference to Rasmussen (2008).

(4) This is a rejoinder to Dutton (2010).

(5) For example, Gellner was a philosopher before turning to anthropology.  Malinowski and Andreski were both from Poland but challenged British anthropology and sociology respectively.

(6) For a discussion of the necessity of civilization to science to Sandall (2001).

(7) A number of scholars (e.g. Salter 2006) have argued that some kind of hallowed worldview is required to hold civilization together in the face of those who would bring it down and the idea of a genetic extended family, and passing on one’s genes, is a prime motivator in any animal including humans.  This form, in effect, of ancestor-worship avoids stifling intellectual dissent—as in when society is held together with dogmas (see Benoist 2004)—but I appreciate there are difficulties with it.

(8) Of course, there is room for corruption here because the editor could insist that they have not responded even if they have so strict guidelines on what constitutes a ‘response’ would have to be drawn up and mutually accepted.

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Sokal, Alan, and Bricmont, Jean, (1998), Fashionable Nonsense: Postmodern Intellectuals’ Abuse of Science, New York: Picador Press. 

Wagner, Roy, (1981), The Invention of Culture, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Watson, Graham, (1991), ‘Rewriting Culture’ in Richard Fox, (ed.), Recapturing Anthropology: Working in the Present, Santa Fe: School of American Research.

Welch, John, (2009), Academic Evolution, http://www.academicevolution.com/2009/02/peer-review-is-vanity-publishing.html 

Westbrook, David, (2008), Navigators of the Contempory: Why Ethnography Matters, Chicago: Chicago University Press.

Wiebe, Donald, (1999), ‘Does understanding religion require a religious understanding?’ in McCutcheon, Russell T., (ed.), The Insider/Outsider Problem in the Study of Religion: A Reader, New York: Cassell.

Wilson, Edward O., (1998), Consilience: Towards the Unity of Knowledge, New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

Bradley Manning: One Soldier Who Really Did “Defend Our Freedom”, by Kevin Carson


Kevin Carson

http://c4ss.org/?p=5587

When I hear someone say that soldiers “defend our freedom,” my immediate response is to gag. I think the last time American soldiers actually fought for the freedom of Americans was probably the Revolutionary War — or maybe the War of 1812, if you want to be generous. Every war since then has been for nothing but to uphold a system of power, and to make the rich folks even richer.

But I can think of one exception. If there’s a soldier anywhere in the world who’s fought and suffered for my freedom, it’s Pfc. Bradley Manning.

Manning is frequently portrayed, among the knuckle-draggers on right-wing message boards, as some sort of spoiled brat or ingrate, acting on an adolescent whim. But that’s not quite what happened, according to Johann Hari (“The under-appreciated heroes of 2010,” The Independent, Dec. 24).

Manning, like many young soldiers, joined up in the naive belief that he was defending the freedom of his fellow Americans. When he got to Iraq, he found himself working under orders “to round up and hand over Iraqi civilians to America’s new Iraqi allies, who he could see were then torturing them with electrical drills and other implements.” The people he arrested, and handed over for torture, were guilty of such “crimes” as writing “scholarly critiques” of the U.S. occupation forces and its puppet government. When he expressed his moral reservations to his supervisor, Manning “was told to shut up and get back to herding up Iraqis.”

The people Manning saw tortured, by the way, were frequently the very same people who had been tortured by Saddam: trade unionists, members of the Iraqi Freedom Congress, and other freedom-loving people who had no more use for Halliburton and Blackwater than they had for the Baath Party.

For exposing his government’s crimes against humanity, Manning has spent seven months in solitary confinement – a torture deliberately calculated to break the human mind.

We see a lot of “serious thinkers” on the op-ed pages and talking head shows, people like David Gergen, Chris Matthews and Michael Kinsley, going on about all the stuff that Manning’s leaks have impaired the ability of “our government” to do.

He’s impaired the ability of the U.S. government to conduct diplomacy in pursuit of some fabled “national interest” that I supposedly have in common with Microsoft, Wal-Mart and Disney. He’s risked untold numbers of innocent lives, according to the very same people who have ordered the deaths of untold thousands of innocent people. According to White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, Manning’s exposure of secret U.S. collusion with authoritarian governments in the Middle East, to promote policies that their peoples would find abhorrent, undermines America’s ability to promote “democracy, open government, and free and open societies.”

But I’ll tell you what Manning’s really impaired government’s ability to do.

He’s impaired the U.S. government’s ability to lie us into wars where thousands of Americans and tens of thousands of foreigners are murdered.

He’s impaired its ability to use such wars — under the guise of promoting “democracy” — to install puppet governments like the Coalition Provisional Authority, that will rubber stamp neoliberal “free trade” agreements (including harsh “intellectual property” provisions written by the proprietary content industries) and cut special deals with American crony capitalists.

He’s impaired its ability to seize good, decent people who — unlike most soldiers — really are fighting for freedom, and hand them over to thuggish governments for torture with power tools.

Let’s get something straight. Bradley Manning may be a criminal by the standards of the American state. But by all human standards of morality, the government and its functionaries that Manning exposed to the light of day are criminals. And Manning is a hero of freedom for doing it.

So if you’re one of the authoritarian state-worshippers, one of the grovelling sycophants of power, who are cheering on Manning’s punishment and calling for even harsher treatment, all I can say is that you’d probably have been there at the crucifixion urging Pontius Pilate to lay the lashes on a little harder. You’d have told the Nazis where Anne Frank was hiding. You’re unworthy of the freedoms which so many heroes and martyrs throughout history — heroes like Bradley Manning — have fought to give you.

Libertarian Alliance Christmas Message 2010


What is liberty for, and why should people be free?

David Davis

Merry Christmas, ladies and gentlemen. May God rest you merry, and perhaps tight this year. Get tight while you can still afford it – for governments, specially this one, would like to think they can “combat drinking” by over-taxation, freely and cheerfully admitted to.

Well, this year, among other things, the awful and totally-unelected Gordon Brown zeppelin-thing-in-the-ether, foisted on us by Tony Blair and possibly his worst single act, imploded finally. We voted, and guess what? Nobody won, and the Government got in, again. This may be a good thing in the short term, in that the coalition can’t actually do anything to hinder people much more, let alone help. But strategically in the battle for universal individual freedom, we here are certainly no better off than before.

In fact, a little worse, for some of us like me and Sean see the Clock ticking…. We know that however relatively more slowly than before we are being marched to the living-gas-chambers of sustainable socialist greenery, and to the concentration-camps of more intricate and closer repression, the available decades of living people’s lifetimes in which they might do something to reverse The Big Modern Managerial State, are slipping away like sand in a glass. Time, literally, is running out for liberty in the UK for sure, and so it would seem also for other Anglosphere nations. I gather that you can get fined for speeding in Australia, if you are tracked by a police helicopter…I thought helicopters were foreign-policy-war-winning-weapons, for machine-gunning GramscoStaliNazi “freedom-fighters”, until I researched Australian Policing.

So, what’s wrong with liberty? Why exactly are we under assault? And given the seeming consensus ranged against individual freedom, not only among the governing Enemy-Classes of the world, but also among populations who you think should know better, what is the point of freedom? Why should people be free?

If slavery seems to make so many people happy, why should bother to resist? Why continue to accept the nonplussed opinions of our contemporaries? Why bother any more to bear their frank uncomprehension at our persistent criticism of statist ideas and outcomes? Why should we endure the perpetual status of outsiders and deranged wierdos?

We do have the comfort of course, of knowing that everyone else is mistaken. We know we are right: we also know there is objective truth, about why liberty is good, and all the alternatives are evil.

But, why is it that in the presence of large measures of individual liberty, Men seem to advance and the nett sum of human comfort – not to mention the absolute amounts of energy able to be deployed – go up? Along with life-expectancy, freedom from hunger and want for more people than before, and the like? And that the converse is true: tyrannies actually produce cars, such as the Trabant, whose specification actually _declined_ as the years went on?

The world must thus divide between those who think as we do, and those who think that progress is a zero-sum-game. We know that market-based co-operation of Men produces absolutely more wealth, able to be spread by trading and money. To do this fairly, money must be “sound”, which is to say: unable to be corrupted and debased by outsiders and agencies (such as monopoly government issuers, which see a way to “have more” to spend, on “projects” or on themselves.) We also know that we think the Enemy-Class knows that for one man to succeed, many must fail. That’s why they have abolished failure in education, schools, and increasingly, non-Olympic Sport. (They like the medals, you see, “for the People”….)

What’s wrong with liberty, as seen by our Enemy-Classes the world over, is exactly that it makes Enemy-Classes redundant. There can be no purpose in such a Class, so long as individuals can sink or swim by their own efforts and forge, or fail to forge, their own destinies, by their own considered efforts and also while happy to accept the outcomes as they fall. Furthermore, many of the Enemy-Class are against what they call “religion”. Specifically this means Judeo-Christianity, for they do not seem to be against other ones although I bet you 5p this will change, before too long, say about 5-15 years. And they’re only “against the Jews” because the “Palestinians” being exotic and phantasmal have captured the imagination of those that shape public perceptions, and also because the Holocaust has now almost faded from living memory, and Europe is returning to its traditional 16-century-old let-out of Jew-hating.

I give British Muslims until about 2025 before they suddenly find themselves physically inside real enclosures looking out, rather than outside the hegemonic-discourse-enclosure looking in. And it won’t be liberals and libertarians who put them there, it will be their erstwhile friends in the Political Enemy-Class, and they will cry “foul!” and there will be nobody left to speak for them.

As for Christmas? I always like to make the point that Liberty is not the daughter of order but its mother. For those libertarians who believe there is a God, well that’s fine, and I just remind the others that He gave Man free will, as a gift. OK, OK. We all know the concept evolved along with an ever-increasingly-ramified brain and the ability to comprehend self-hood, accumulate Memory, and use Learning, in the fulfilment of the brain’s biological brief, which is to “do what you think best in the next seconds of time, all the time, to keep us other cells alive, using what you know”.

As in 1.John i:- In the beginning was Order. Order was God, (which means God exemplified Order), and Order was “with” (which is to say “by” or “created by”) God. In other words, Order pre-existed everything observable in the Universe, which of course makes perfect sense to any good scientist. (The “science” is settled! Ha ha…) Now, we say that Liberty is Order’s mother, which is logical in a political sense and is always and everywhere shown to be true in history. This makes liberty the greatest of all gifts. So, all Men should be free, for in that state a civilisation founded on Order, freely arrived at, not needing “police”, or “cameras” or DNA datatbases, or other such low stuff, can arise.

 

NOW…that’s what I call an idea


Bioluminescent trees.

David Davis

Bet you 50p you’ll see this at David Thompson soon, on Friday Ephemera….

The GramscoStaliNazi long march to pre-capitalist-barbarism…


…continues.

David Davis

The Knowsley Soviet, here in North West England, gains the “Gramscian-Education-of-the-masses Grand Challenge Cup”, for aiming low, missing, and also coming bottom. Mistakes this big, as Ayn Rand said, are deliberate.

And whaddaya-know? Boys “fall further behind”. Anyone who looks at any part of the British GCSE “syllabus” will see that it’s designed to demotivate males in particular. For example, there is a “topic” in the “Biology syllabus”, occupying about one whole term of “BY1A”, about the female menstrual cycle (in serious detail including hormone levels day by day) and coupling it (sorry, no pun intended) with “aspects of the control of fertility”, going into the days for “safe sex” and how, whether and why to use “artifical methods of birth control” such as “The Pill”. Seriously, some female biology high-school teachers spend a whole term on it. The feelings of boys in the class can only be imagined. I refuse to teach it, saying only “ask your mum”.

http://www.knowsley.gov.uk/

I do hope not, seriously.

Trevor Philips has been reading Mein Kampf again


Michael Winning

188 pigs all OK for the night, but Ive got a bad cold and came in and saw this.

Hes still doing the long march through the institutions. Guess he thinks he’s winning still. Does he have a child at private school? Anyone know? He badmouths them something deep.

Unravelling the confusion and impending tragedy: what are the objectives of University Education?


David Davis

In Simon Heffer’s piece today, there is a groping attempt at a solution. He’s still a bit bitty statist though, and he’s always totally wrong and unsound on drugs (not mentioned here, thank goodness.)

“Bad news coming” thought Winston…


Christopher Houseman

No, not the impending cuts of so many public payroll salaries (some of which have jobs associated with them), but rather a certain commonality in the Coalition about the motives for their present course of action.

Nick Clegg has assured the LibDems that he doesn’t want to cut the state for the sake of cutting it. No, he wants to cut it so he can rebuild the state differently. Likewise, Liam Fox has informed the Tories that he doesn’t want to cut defence and nor does David Cameron (cue Tory applause) – but at the moment, he has no choice.

Thus is the libertarian ideal of a smaller state smeared in the eyes of political activists and the wider public as a necessary evil, a stopping-off point to be endured on the road to the sunny uplands of a reshaped and re-expanded State tomorrow.

Unless libertarians can convincingly and appealingly present to the public the truly joyous reality of being able to work (or not) as we please, with whom we please, to offer goods and services we’re proud of to whomever we please, libertarians will remain marginalised and misunderstood. They’ll be seen as an articulate but callous bunch, perversely rejoicing over the wider dislocation and misery caused by the State’s champions ditching the minions they think they can most easily do without.

When faced with people determined to do exactly the wrong thing, Lenin’s “The worse the better” dictum may be an accurate response to their failures. But it’s no way to market anything to anyone.

PS. I note the Tories’ pledge to let headteachers discipline children for misbehaviour on the way to and from school. I leave the last word on this news to John Taylor Gatto:

As schooling encroaches further and further into family and personal life, monopolizing the development of mind and character, children become human resources at the disposal of whatever form of governance is dominant at the moment.

I just came up with this on bookface


David Davis

“The greens know they will have to break us on this planet, or lose the war”….

http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=662052517&v=wall&story_fbid=118640131506476#!/profile.php?id=662052517&v=wall&story_fbid=149201721787089&ref=mf

Mises OnLine University


Hi,

The Mises University is offering online courses on a variety of topics, all reasonably priced.

http://academy.mises.org/courses/

Thought it might be of interest to some of you here

For this crowd I would recommend:

Freedom Versus Authority: Europe 1789-1945 http://academy.mises.org/courses/freedom-versus-authority-europe-1789-1945/

The Political Economy of War http://academy.mises.org/courses/the-economics-of-war/

Simon Heffer on why accuracy in English matters


David Davis

No Michael, I’m not getting at you here, so don’t worry. Heffer, though, as always, is a model of clarity.

7 Planets found 127 Light years away


michael Winning

I just noticed this and thought some of you people might be interested.

Something Wonderful


Sean Gabb

The score is handy for telling me the piece is in Db. And it generally helps explain why my own efforts at singing it in the car have not so far matched those of Mme Callas….

Civitas on Social Mobility


Civitas Institute for the Study of Civil Society

18 August 2010
Policy Briefing

Will Nick Clegg escape the Social Mobility Myths?
By Peter Saunders

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg made a major speech today in which he identified ‘promoting social mobility’ as ‘at the top of our social agenda’. Tony Blair made a similar commitment in 1997, just as John Major did in 1992. It is something modern leaders feel compelled to talk about. But Clegg brought a fresh take to it by emphasising the importance of parenting. Coupled with the Coalition’s initiatives on tax reform and early years intervention, this should help focus attention on the real social mobility problem – the self-reproducing, welfare-dependent underclass.

Parenting

Like many politicians and commentators, Clegg thinks we have a serious social mobility problem in Britain: ‘It really, really gets to me that even though … we are a relatively affluent country, children are pretty well condemned by the circumstances of their birth.’ Unusually, though, he was prepared in his speech to identify poor parenting as part of the problem. Parents, he said, are ‘on the frontline’ and must interest their children in education.

He’s right. Unfortunately, though, he has appointed former Health Secretary, Alan Milburn, as social mobility special adviser to the Government. And Milburn seems convinced the problem is institutional (in his letter accepting this latest appointment, he saw his task as ‘assessing the progress each set of institutions is making to [increasing] opportunities’).

A closed-shop society?

Milburn chaired a report on recruitment into the professions in 2009 (Unleashing Aspiration) in which he claimed: ‘Birth, not worth, has become more and more a determinant of people’s life chances.’ He even described Britain as a ‘closed-shop society’. He thinks institutions are blocking people.

Milburn will now report annually on how social mobility is being improved across the public sector, including the NHS and universities. This should set alarm bells ringing for anyone who knows anything about this issue, for it signals more destructive and ineffective social engineering could be on the way.

Opportunity is already extensive

Clegg is right to want every child to enjoy the opportunity to exploit their talents to the full. Nobody wants to see bright and hard-working people blocked through no fault of their own. As he said, ‘Fairness means everyone having the chance to do well, irrespective of their beginnings. Fairness means that no one is held back by the circumstances of their birth. Fairness demands that what counts is not the school you went to or the jobs your parents did, but your ability and your ambition.’

But what he may not understand is that, for most people living in Britain today, this is already the situation.

Britain is not a perfect meritocracy, of course. Like in every other country, children benefit if they are born to supportive parents who care about their education and make sacrifices to help their kids excel. And not everyone has parents like that. Nevertheless, the evidence from social mobility research is that, if you are bright and hard-working, and your parents have a job (no matter what it is), you will almost certainly succeed in modern Britain:

* Dividing the population into three classes (professionals, managers and administrators at the top, manual workers at the bottom, and others in-between), more than half the population of Britain ends up in a different social class from the one they were born into.
* Of children in the top quarter of the ability distribution, only 1 in 20 ends up in a semi- or unskilled working class job, while two-thirds get professional-type careers, irrespective of the class of their parents.
* Movement is extensive, up and down these classes. More people born to working class parents are upwardly mobile by the time they reach 30 than stay in the working class. Downward mobility is also common: more than one-third of middle class children fail to stay there.

Given these figures, it is outrageous that Milburn last year described Britain as a ‘closed-shop society’ where birth counts more than worth.

Why middle class children out-perform working class children

It is true that children born into middle class homes tend (on average) to out-perform children born into working class homes. A child of manual worker parents is about three times less likely to achieve a professional/managerial position than a middle class child.

But it is a mistake to assume (as several recent government reports, including Milburn’s, have assumed) that this means there are unfair advantages or blockages at work. What this explanation neglects to consider is the distribution of talent.

When employers take on new employees, they try to recruit the most talented and able people. This creates a talent gradient across the occupational classes – people in the top jobs tend to be brighter on average than those at the bottom. These people usually find partners of a similar ability level (demographers call this ‘assortive mating’). And between them, they tend to have children whose ability to some extent reflects their own. The result is that, in each generation, a disproportionate number of middle class children is born with the high ability needed to get the best jobs. Hence that 3:1 ratio.

Nobody likes to talk about this – least of all, politicians. When they see middle class kids outperforming working class kids, they prefer to blame ‘unfair social conditions’. But the principal explanation is differences in average ability levels.

In research recently published by Civitas, half of the explained variance in the occupational destinations achieved by the 1958 birth cohort was due to just one variable – how well they scored on an IQ test when they were aged 11. This is a much better predictor of their eventual fate than the class they were born into, the type of school they attended, or any other social factor.

The fallacy of social engineering

Because politicians don’t like talking about ability differences, they keep trying to tweak educational and occupational selection procedures so more working class children will clear the assessment hurdles. They have been doing this for 50 years: abolishing grammar schools, scrapping streaming, turning Polytechnics into universities, expanding higher education places, dumbing down A-levels, attacking the private schools. Given the chance, Milburn will pursue more of the same (e.g. by penalising top universities if they do not take more entrants from lower social class backgrounds).

But none of these radical reforms has changed anything: ever since the war, middle class kids have been out-performing working class kids in that same ratio of around 3:1. All that more social engineering will achieve is a further diminution of educational standards.

Focus on the welfare underclass

There is one thing governments could and should be doing, though: intensively targeting children growing up in households where nobody has a job and parents are neglectful or absent. It is here, one suspects, that the real problem lies, and it is the one gleam of hope to be taken from Clegg’s speech. As he said: ‘Parents are in the frontline when it comes to creating a fairer society, in the way that they raise their children.’

It is often forgotten that research on social mobility excludes children in jobless households. When economists study income mobility, they exclude people with no earned income. When sociologists study occupational mobility, they exclude people with no occupation. The real social mobility problem is almost certainly concentrated in the welfare underclass of this country – but they are not being picked up in mobility statistics.

Instead of harassing Oxford and Cambridge to change their selection criteria, or fiddling with taxes and benefits to flatten the income distribution (something the 2009 Milburn Report was very keen on), politicians should devote their energies to improving parenting for young children growing up in welfare ghettoes. For everyone else, the opportunities are already there if they have the ability and motivation to take advantage of them. Milburn must be told there is no case for more social engineering.

Policy implications

There are three key policy implications that follow from all of this:

1. Help parents in workless households to assist their pre-school and older children.

2. Require people capable of work but currently on welfare to take a job.

3. Improve schools and provide supplementary schools so that they make up for unsupportive parents.

And one thing to avoid: don’t waste time on income redistribution or more quota-based social engineering. Not only are such initiatives ineffective, they are also counter-productive. When politicians repeatedly blame social conditions for outcomes, they breed fatalism by discouraging us from making the effort to overcome obstacles ourselves.

For more information contact:

Peter Saunders on: 07900 412420

Civitas on: 020 7799 6677

Notes for Editors

i. Civitas is an independent think tank. It receives no state funding either directly or indirectly and has no links to any political party.

ii. Peter Saunders is Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the University of Sussex and Professorial Research Fellow at Civitas. For further information about the author see: http://www.petersaunders.org.uk

iii. To buy Social Mobility Myths by Peter Saunders, click here. A press summary of the report can be read here.

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Middle-Class lefties


David Davis

Ed West of the DT comments here.

Cashiering the Teachers « Cork Irish


by David Webb

Cashiering the Teachers

Filed under: conservative politics — admin @ 6:20 pm

I would like to reform the education system in a way that allows for higher standards without empowering new bureaucracies to monitor all schools. In one of Chris Woodhead’s books, he speaks of how inspections are carried out in triplicate. The inspectors come, and then the inspectors of the inspectors, and the inspectors of the inspectors of the inspectors—as there is more than one body involved with monitoring schools. I believe parents should buy the school education they need for their children, and have the right to sue the school if the school does not teach well. For example, if the school does not use the “phonics” method of teaching reading, a good case to sue the school is created. By putting power in the hands of the consumers, the fact that the teachers are in the main left-wing extremists can be circumvented. To sue a failing school is a very different approach to the regulatory regimes in place now: the quality of education should be a question between the school and the parents, without regulatory bodies involved.

I have some detailed policy prescriptions. I would close down all the LEAs tomorrow and enter the names of all their employees on a Bureaucratic Parasites’ Register (BPR)- and cancel their pensions for lack of interest. People on the BPR would be subject to a lifetime ban on working in the public sector. The BPR wouldn’t be a quango, but simply an Internet list of all those so banned. There would be no secret register to pay to search: the information would be permanently in the public domain on a website.

The whole education system should be privatised or handed over to existing management and the state should get out of the sector. Basically, vouchers should replace school funding, but the vouchers should be set at a level that requires every parent to pay something. Clearly the poorest would get a voucher covering 90% of the cost, but they ought to pay at least something in order to take interest in what goes on in the school. Teachers’ salaries are determined on a school-by-school basis. Schools that underperform simply have no choose other than to cut salaries.

Beyond that, every school would be selective, and there should be no national curriculum, and school inspectorates should be closed down (and their employees entered on the BPR). The state should confine itself to monitoring exam syllabuses and marking schedules. As long as the exams are tough, presumably the schools have to raise their game. By ensuring that real content is on the exam papers, ideally set to be similar to those of the 1950s, schools simply have to teach better in order to have their little charges pass the exams.

I would introduce a baccalaureate of 1000 points. Maximum 10 subjects of 100 points each. Pupils only entered for 5 subjects can only get 500 points and so are missing out on 50% of the marks to start with. This is so that those bright students who can do 10 exams get a higher overall mark. No one scoring under 700 goes on to A level and university. The Bacc would be as follows:

1. Latin 100 marks (to include Caesar, Vergilius etc)
2. Modern language 100 marks (to include an oral)
3. English language 100 (to include tough requirements on grammar). Children who can’t spell or use the subjunctive score very badly here.
4. English literature 100 (purely consisting of Shakespeare and the Greats – basically the syllabus would require knowledge of so many Classic works, there would be no time to teach PC works.)
5. RE – knowledge of the Prayerbook and one of the Gospels of the Authorised Version of the Bible required. No Islamic or alternative option available.
6.History or Geography – knowledge of facts required to pass. Geography is about geography and not about social exclusion. History requires much more than knowledge of slavery and the Holocaust. Exam questions like “imagine you are a slave; write down your feelings” are simply deleted from exam papers: the study of slavery has a place, but this sort of “exam question” is a nonsense.
7.At least one science. There is no such thing as “double science”. Biology, physics and chemistry are separate options.
8.Mathematics – at least as rigorous as the 1950s O level.
9 and 10 – a choice of additional languages, humanities and sciences, music etc.

Schools that did not teach Latin would see their children unable to score more than 900. Schools that didn’t teach any language, Latin or modern, would see their children unable to score more than 800. Schools that taught PC books would see their children fail the English literature component. Schools that taught Islam in the RE component would see their children fail on knowledge of the Christian tradition.

But it makes no sense to monitor what happens in each class. Set the exam syllabuses and marking schedules so hard that the only way of passing is to teach a traditional curriculum – but let the schools do what they like. The Baccalaureate league table would lead to parental pressure. Parents would have the legal right to sue the schools if they felt they were not teaching the good stuff. The idea would be to make it very hard for anyone not in the top 2% of pupils to score more than 900 under this baccalaureate. A criminal investigation of the exam boards would ensue whenever more than 2% of pupils scored more than 900. As I said, no one scoring under 700 goes on to A levels. The wheat is sorted from the chaff.

Let me add that the number of people with qualifications is too high in the UK. The certificates they have are often meaningless. We have seen graduates required for jobs that previously were done by those with A levels and now for jobs previously done by those with O levels. We saw recently how a girl with GCSEs and A levels committed suicide because she was unable to find a job. It is simply wrong to create a system where degrees are required for jobs that technically do not demand anything other than good English and arithmetic. Why is a degree required to work in a travel agents’ office? Indeed, why are A levels required? The job technically does not require any qualifications at all.

We need to substantially reduce the numbers with A levels and degrees, not in order to take opportunity away from people, but in order to restore it. Most of these degrees are nothing more than a detailed grilling in left-wing propaganda anyway. The teacher training colleges should be closed down (and their employees entered on the BPR) and schools required to conduct their own training.

* Compulsory education abolished. Home schooling and no schooling become fully acceptable—and no supervision of home-schooled children is carried out.
* All coursework for exams abolished. Everything is on the final exam with no appeal allowed. Pupils can sit the entire year again and then take the exams the following year – no public funding for repeating a year would be available; parents would have to pay the full tuition fee.
* Corporal punishment – 6 of the best – introduced in all schools. Parents are not permitted to object.
* Schools required to keep order and prevent bullying – the headmaster subject to criminal charges (abetting violence among pupils in his care) if he doesn’t. Parents can also sue the schools if the headmaster fails to keep order in the school.
* School league tables remain in existence: schools are judged on the exam results of all children in their care, including those entered for no exams, so the current bureaucratic fraud of labelling children dyslexic, attention-deficit and dyscalculic, comes to an end
* Hectoring the children on multiculturalism becomes a criminal offence. The Crown Prosecution Service plays no role in such prosecutions. Parents initiate prosecutions themselves on a “no win, no fee” basis.
* Hectoring the children on support for “gay” sexuality becomes a criminal offence (=Section 28 restored).
* Sex education criminalised.
* The child measurement programme is cancelled – measuring children’s weight at schools is defined as a human rights abuse.
* Normal food reintroduced in school canteens.
* Christian assemblies required in all schools, required of demographic composition.
* School uniform standards enforced. Parents of schools where girls are no longer required to wear skirts can sue the schools.
* The Criminal Records Bureau checks are ended. Schools are required to be open to the general public. Padlocking children behind locked doors out of a misplaced security panic is defined as false imprisonment—a criminal offence.

Cashiering the Teachers « Cork Irish

Libertarian Alliance Conference


I am writing to tell you that the Libertarian Alliance and Libertarian International will hold their joint conference this year over the weekend of the 30th-31st October 2010 at the National Liberal Club in London. We are still finalising the programme, and make no warranties that the speakers listed on our programme will be the ones who finally appear. However, we are offering bookings now, because, from the 1st August 2010, the booking fee will rise from £85 (and the corresponding rate in Dollars and Euros) to £99 (also with the corresponding foreign currency rates).

You should book now, as you may recall how, in previous years, we have had to refuse bookings in the last week before the conference.

The Provisional Brochure is here:

http://www.libertarian.co.uk/conferences/conf10brochure.htm

Book Recommendations

Christian Michel, the European Director of the Libertarian Alliance and President of the Libertarian International, has published two books through the Hampden Press These are:

Bricks of Freedom (in English)
Christian Michel
First edition, July 2010, 411pp
Euro10/£10/$20/
http://www.seangabb.talktalk.net/hampdenpress/bricks.htm

Vivre Ensemble (in French)
Christian Michel
First edition, July 2010, 367pp
Euro10/£10/$20/
http://www.seangabb.talktalk.net/hampdenpress/vivre.htm

Both books are highly recommended.

Secrets About Money That Put You At Risk (Paperback)
by Michael J. McKay
£8.95/$12.95
From Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/36fkxvh

Richard Blake
Blood of Alexandria
“The greatest novel of its kind ever written!!!!!” You will be aware that Mr Blake has never been one to blow his own trumpet and bank his own drum. This being so, it is wholly fitting that I should undertake the work on his behalf.
£19.99
From Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/356mwdr

Though the hardback has now sold out, Mr Blake would ask you to order even so, as this may prompt Hodder & Stoughton to go for a reprint instead of diverting the export paperback. The mass market paperback will be available at Christmas. But why not try for a hardback copy NOW of this flawless masterpiece of libertarian historical fiction?

Some very nasty people are NICE


David Davis

Spotted this just now.

Religion and liberty


David Davis

My younger boy had his first communion today, nine years after the other one who blogs sometimes on here. Unlike many other hard-libertarians, I see no conflict whatsoever between the profession of  libertarian ideas, and (with my hard-scientist-hat on) the hypothesis that the astonishing level of observed order in the Universe and its Laws of action _/may/_ be the result of what goes on in God’s Mind.

Creationists have tragcially got the wrong end of the stick. They take folk-tales like the Book of Genesis, written down as the Apostle Paul said quite clearly, “through a glass, darkly”, and try vainly and without hope of success to conflate their supposed meaning to overlay and explain observed reality. It will never work and will only lead to more ructions and maybe “rivers of blood”, but I hope not. Only if the socialists, who cleverly encourage these sadly misguided people for the useful idiots they are, manage to get all the lights turned out and the food-production facilities destroyed, as they wish to do.

The older one has no problem being a libertarian, while heading for a scientist of some kind who can also gig on stage with an electric cello or guitar, and yet can calmly stroll up to the Priest  in Mass. Perhaps the younger will be as lucky. Perhaps this intellectual integration can only be properly accomplished in the Anglosphere?

Educashun, educashun, educashun


David Davis

Someone “high-up” in the British Political EnemyClass has suggested that the State monkeys yet further with end-of-school qualifications, to play to the different skills of boys and girls. This is the wrong solution addressing the wrong problem. The problem is that there is nothing left worth learning in British State GCSE exams. This ought to be addressed first.

As the Irishman said, on being asked the way to somewhere: “If I were you,

I wouldn’t be starting from here!” The problems with GCSEs are these:-

(1) the ones that really matter (Maths, English, Science, History, Geography,

Latin) have been deliberately stripped of real content, partly to make them

inclusive and partly to deliberately de-educate more than two succeeding

Generations of English people especially males in particular.

(2) The droids which run exam boards, “Local Education Authorities”,

teachers’ “Trade Unions” and also whatever the Ministry of Education

is currently called, are GramscoFabiaNazis. They know and believe and wish,

with all their hearts, that our culture (here) and our historiography must die,

and plan to ensure it. They can’t logistically round up 60 million people at

gunpoint into cattle trucks bound for…(…where would they put us all!) so

they do the next best thing. (For example: for his GCSE “Religious Education”

(full course, higher) my boy ought to have watched “East Enders”,

whatever that is.) These mountebanks got to where they are on purpose, to do

exactly what they have done. Our backs were turned at the time, facing the

homologous military threat by their real masters (it pretended to cave in in

1989, and so the strategy was brilliantly clever. Never, ever underestimate

these thugs.

(3) The syllabuses of these have been captured the discourse-owners of the above GramscoFabiaNazi ideology. GCSE “Biology” module 1, is all about alcohol abuse, dangers of smoking, misuse of drugs, and a woman’s mentrual cycle coupled with “fertillity control”. Clearly designed to impress boys. Nothing about comdoms, but then they were forced to learn that in primary school. In maths, “Bhavneeta conducts a survey about how her friends travel to school. She finds that 98% travel by bus or bicycle. What fraction travel by other means?”

(4) Other distractions, such as “Media studies” and “PE”, fill time which could be used to teach proper science, or read several Shakespeare plays in full, part for part, over a week or two for each one. Then they could act it. “Food tech” is all about risk-assessing the preparation of a “healthy lunch” for a wheelchair-bound vegetarian, using “local ingredients” and no salt or sugar – does that mean you only use what’s in the pantry then?

(5) The “mark schemes” are totally prescriptive. You may not even describe something correctly but in different words from the MS.

(6) The Government adjusts the grade-boundaries (usually down each year, trust me, I mark stuff) to be able to trumpet that “the better-than-ever results reflect the efforts of our pupils and teachers, harder-working and more successful than ever before!”

None of that could be true unless the papers were getting really harder, really longer, and containing more content, than ever before. Which they are not.

The whole system needs to go, and we need to start again. With the papers from 1950 which have been considerable lengthened to contain the next 60 years of real added knowledge, to test. About 1% of all takers will pass at all, but that’s how we will learn what the real papers ought to look like: those who fail will just have to step back and learn more things.

You could get out a lot pf TV programs about thermodynamics, transition metal chemistry, and subnuclear particles, in the daily Eastenders slot.

(5) You’d be shocked at the “poetry clusters” in the English syllabus.