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David Thompson
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July 12, 2013

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Rob

They want to destroy society. Actually, they THINK they want to destroy society, but they would soon realise that the very, very comfortable life they lead as members of the upper middle class would be utterly destroyed along with that society, and their 'skillset' of a poor humanities degree and faux radical opinions wouldn't be a big seller in the society which followed.

Too late by then, of course.

Joan

Makes you wonder why Bea Campbell, Laurie Penny, Madeleine Schwartz et al don't just set up a communist kibbutz. They could sign up (for 20 years minimum) then we'll see what happens.

David

They could sign up (for 20 years minimum) then we’ll see what happens.

Heh. Now that’s a game show. Even better than I’m a Diabetic, Get Me Out of Here.

But I sense that you’re not treating their radicalism with the seriousness and awe that it deserves. Can you not feel the tremendous weight of their ideas?

Queen of Lurkers

Have a drink on me, David. This rickety barge has kept me entertained for years. ;-D

David

Have a drink on me, David.

Bless you, good woman. The liquor cabinet was running perilously low.

This rickety barge has kept me entertained for years.

I’ll take that as a compliment. Rather than a damning statement about your standards and social life.

Horace Dunn

Tim Newman

The proposed banning of packed lunches in schools was discussed at some length on the Today Programme on BBC Radio 4 this morning. The basic assumption, that the state should impose constraints on the dietary choices that people make for themselves and their families, went unquestioned. Henry Dimbleby (a scion of the notable BBC dynasty), who is proposing the legislation, told us why this was a terribly good idea, and his views went entirely unchallenged. I mean ENTIRELY. There wasn't even a bit of soft-ball questioning just to tease out some of the assumptions and their implications.

There was a modest little bit of naysaying from the teachers' unions. But these guardians of the nations youth were not concerned about the rights of their charges, and their parents, to make their own choices. Oh no. Their concern was that some establishments - non-state schools, academies and so on - would not be subjected to the packed-lunch bans. Their view was that this is no good unless EVERYONE is forced to comply.

The BBC and the teachers. Part of the LIBERAL establishment, d'ye see?

Steveo

And another on me. Cheers!

David

Tim,

Ban packed lunches, schools urged.

Says the interfering tool Mr Henry Dimbleby: “There’s a strong libertarian streak in the English and some head teachers might think that’s a battle they don’t want to fight... I would ban packed lunches if it was my school.” It evidently doesn’t occur to him that he and his peers have no business thwarting the preferences of parents (and children) in this way. I can’t help thinking these creatures need to be entombed in Lucite and dropped into the sea. It’s the only way they’ll stop.

David

Thanks very much Steveo, and JH, and thanks to everyone who’s chipped in incognito. It helps keep this place ticking over and makes me feel loved. Which I’m sure is the effect you were all going for...

rjmadden

“There’s a strong libertarian streak in the English and some head teachers might think that’s a battle they don’t want to fight...

These statists are setting the bar for libertarianism pretty low. Any reluctance to comply and you'll be made to sound radical.

JeremiadBullfrog

"Ms Schwartz went on to claim, again based on nothing, that ‘nuclear’ family structures 'isolate' people"

I cannot stand the Left's Procrustean insistence that the words for concepts they dislike must take on only the worst, most anti-social meaning possible (cf., "self-interest", "individualism", "competition", "patriotism", etc.).

Nothing says "constructive dialogue" like telling other people what their own words mean...(well, 'constructive' for one side, at any rate)

David

These statists are setting the bar for libertarianism pretty low.

Well, quite. Funny how easily you can become, to some, an obstinate heretic while doing nothing in particular to warrant the label, except to say “No, thank you.” It’s rather like being accosted on your doorstep by Jehovah’s Witnesses and then being regarded by them as peculiar for not signing up immediately. But it seems to me this is another side-effect of the leftist worldview, in which the world must be perfected and made tidy by some enlightened and all-knowing third party (much like themselves) continually interfering in our affairs. Even down to who has what for lunch. Or the size of our biscuits and carbonated beverages.

Yes, a perfect, tidy world. And all it would cost is your adulthood.

Mac McCubbin

"Can you not feel the tremendous weight of their ideas?"

In the sense that a toddler, having shat itself, can dimly sense the weight of it's nappy; yes. Yes I can...

WTP

I'm curious how they know what's in children's packed lunches. Perhaps the kind of children who let adults sample what's in their lunch come from families whose dietary practices are questionable? Not saying there is a correlation, but the idea of someone asking a child what's in their lunch bag seems rather creepy to me. My own dog get's pissed if I go near his bowl after I've filled it.

Mags

Apparently, the "diffusion" of the family unit – which is to say, absent fathers, hardship and subsequent dependence on the state – "is one of the most exciting things to happen to the American social pattern since sexual liberation."

These people are certifiable.

Bandit 1

"And all it would cost is your adulthood."

And lots of tax monies. Roll on the Harrogate Agenda.

RightofGenghis

My grandmother was the head cook at a public school for 35 years. While she was lacking in formal education and job opportunities, she insisted on sending her children to private school and it had nothing to do with the quality of the food. She didn't like the indoctrination that providing food entailed. To her, it was the duty of every family to provide for their own. And the food sucked too. But, more importantly, she knew that providing food REPLACED the family and taught children to expect things for free. She had the courage to act on what she and every other sentient individual human instinctively knows, but is afraid to acknowledge.

David

These people are certifiable.

Well, naïve at best, and more likely pretentious and dogmatic. But I suppose it can become a grey area. I recommend the Heather Mac Donald articles linked in the main post, along with this podcast, in which she describes the efforts of various “community organisers” to pretend that Chicago’s poverty and crime stats have nothing whatsoever to do with those “diffused” family arrangements that are advocated above. The idea that sub-optimal family arrangements might often have sub-optimal outcomes was, she discovered, practically taboo.

Rafi

David, thought you'd like an update on the Guardian's coffee shop venture…

http://order-order.com/2013/07/12/grande-floppuccino/

David

Maybe it’s not actually a coffee shop at all. Maybe it’s some kind of art installation.

Rafi

It's a conceptual representation of why the Guardian is such a success.

JuliaM

"I can’t help thinking these creatures need to be entombed in Lucite and dropped into the sea."

A waste of perfectly good Lucite, and why tease the poor crabs so..?

Jason

I don't understand the Left's hatred of patriarchy. No system is perfect of course, but patriarchal societies have lasted a long time. Where are all the successful matriarchies?

dicentra

Arabella Weir insisted that parents must make sacrifices - not for their own children, of course, which would be selfish and irresponsible - but of their own children. For the Greater Good.

Molech is never sated.

Or outdated.

the conventional family structure is at best problematic and, quite often, something to be disassembled.

Many conservatives and libertarians think that the "social issues" are superfluous distractions that should be ignored in favor of fiscal responsibility and small gubmint. The Real Issues. Except that the Left's war on the family (and the sexual discipline that accompanies its maintenance) is central to ensuring that The State be the only parent we ever have. It's not "Big Brother" we need to watch out for: it's "Big Mother."

The totalitarian states of the 20th century were "bad father" tyrannies, wherein The State controlled the population through punishment and fear. It was militaristic, strict, and overdisciplined.

"Bad mother" tyrannies don't wear jackboots or march in parades — they control the populace through guilt, dependency, and permissiveness. Anyone who has watched the American sitcom "Everybody Loves Raymond" is familiar with the way Marie Barone controls her husband and two sons: not with rules or punishment but by baking cakes and lavishing affection on them; that is, only when they "prove" how much they love her by complying with her wishes. (She's one of the more brilliantly written and brilliantly played characters ever.)

That's why the West doesn't recognize the new tyranny: it's not the scary "bad father" but the affectionate "bad mother," whose silken fetters comfort anxieties and deaden the instincts. Absent the jackboots and gulags, they figure nothing can possibly be wrong.

mojo

"I've always depended on the kindness of strangers..."
-- Blanche DuBois, Psychological Wreck, "A Streetcar Named Desire"

JeremiadBullfrog

"Where are all the successful matriarchies?"

Being kept down by the patriarchies, of course.

dicentra

"Where are all the successful matriarchies?"

Being kept down by the patriarchies, of course.

"Matriarchies" would be those over-feminized societies that used to be strong but are now rotted from within, its people having become soft, promiscuous, and perpetually adolescent.

They're soon conquered by aggressive over-masculine societies whose militaristic determination cannot be repelled by the mewling and cowering populace.

Johnd2008

Some of the children I grew up with were unfortunate enough to have their fathers killed in the war. It was noticeable even to me as a young child that they were the ones who got into trouble more easily. I have two step grandchildren, yes I like them, they are lovely people, but would I give everything for them, I think not, they do not have a real tie to me.

rabbit

Progressives have always understood that the way to engineer society is from the bottom up. You lead society through children.

Conservatives also understands this, but the left has so besmirched the concept of "family values" that conservatives have little impact. The idea, for example, that the destruction of the traditional black family might be very bad thing is considered quaint and perhaps even racist.

Richard Powell

The example of Sir Jonathan Miller is instructive: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1138964/Son-Sir-Jonathan-Miller-says-decision-send-brothers-state-school-turned-academic-failures.html

Despite these faltering beginnings young William was able to build a career in television - the article is silent on whether his father's address book played a part in that.

Spiny Norman

That's why the West doesn't recognize the new tyranny: it's not the scary "bad father" but the affectionate "bad mother," whose silken fetters comfort anxieties and deaden the instincts. Absent the jackboots and gulags, they figure nothing can possibly be wrong.

It's Nineteen-Eighty-Four vs Brave New World and Huxley's nightmare is winning.

dicentra

I dunno, Spiny: We've got the hedonism of BNW with the Panopticon State of 1984, the family-free child-rearing of BNW with the two-minutes' hate of 1984.

Only we all get to be Emmanuel Golstein for 15 minutes.

Ebeneezer Flamsteed

F. A. Hayek, who was smarter than the average Guardian reader (OK, low bar) once commented that the two main institutional obstacles to a socialist utopia were 1) private property and 2) the nuclear family.

David

Richard,

The example of Sir Jonathan Miller is instructive.

Absolutely. I’m trying to understand the mentality of someone who uses his own children as a political experiment. But parenting and education are areas in which reality often jars quite sharply with leftist ideology. In 2010, the Observer’s Kevin McKenna attempted to convince readers that a one-size-fits-all comprehensive education is all that any young person could possibly want. And all they should be permitted to have. McKenna recounted his own “narrow escape from a private education,” and thus his ascent to the higher moral planes. From which he looks down on people who look down on comprehensive education. “The ultimate iniquity,” he wrote, “is that independent, fee-paying schools are allowed to exist at all.”

And yet a 2011 survey of state schools – conducted by the Guardian’s own Teacher Network – found that 40% of teachers surveyed had been bullied by pupils, with 90% agreeing that the bullying of staff was now a serious problem. Student aggression and misbehaviour were among the most frequently stated reasons for teachers leaving the profession; in this one school year alone, 44 teachers were hospitalised with injuries, some severe, inflicted by children supposedly in their care. A survey conducted the previous year by the National Union of Teachers found over 80% of educators noting a deterioration or “marked deterioration” in pupil behaviour during their careers, with 79% of respondents saying that indiscipline and aggression had made effective teaching all but impossible. Readers may question how well their children will be served by a system in which “a climate of violence,” “malicious disruption” and damage to personal property are described by teachers as “part of the routine working environment.”

However, Mr McKenna would have us believe that an aversion to learning environments of this kind is the preserve of people we shouldn’t like. Because, in his mind, such people will be middle class and, worse, members of the Sunday Times wine club. And similar noises were made by the Guardian’s George Monbiot - noted alumnus of Stowe, an imposing boarding school in Buckinghamshire - who took delight in the idea of “shutting down private schools.” Always eager to frustrate and coerce, Monbiot railed against people he regards as having “undeserved advantages,” by which he means their earnings.

Buddhaflies and Heels

Socialist Warrior Paul Weller:

When I ask what he spends his money on he rolls his eyes. 'School fees…' He had qualms about it at first, but all his children have been educated at private schools. Where he lives is not exactly the worst part of London, he says, but the local comprehensives were never an option. 'I don't want my kids coming home speaking like Ali G - I'm just not having it.'

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/music/3673286/Paul-Weller-changing-man.html

I also wonder where Socialist Warrior Billy "Smash the Fash" Bragg sends his children to school. Despite his longing to keep close to his proletarian roots in Barking, he's forced to live in hideously white Dorset for mumble mumble. Which is fair enough. But this means it's unlikely that they go to culturally enriched schools.

Richard Powell

The thing about the Millers and the Weirs is that the stakes are so much lower for them. If Pimlico Comp lets you down, there's always Bedales. If Bedales doesn't work out, get a job at the BBC. There's both a safety net, and a social network. It's the reverse of Evelyn Waugh's Captain Grimes: now, they may let you down, but they'll never kick you out. Whereas the poor sods in the bog standards don't, by and large, get second and third and fourth chances.

The Millers and the Weirs, behind their smokescreen of egalitarian posturing, are in fact the greatest imaginable beneficiaries of class privilege.

David

Richard,

Whereas the poor sods in the bog standards don’t, by and large, get second and third and fourth chances.

And yet those schools are where they’d like to consign other people’s children – schools of which they themselves have little, if any, direct experience. Weir attended the hardly-rough-and-tumble Camden School for Girls, whose alumnae include Emma Thompson and Eva Germaine Rimington Taylor. Zoe Williams’ experience of a “state comprehensive school” is Godolphin and Latymer, where the list of extracurricular activities includes visits to Morocco and an eight-day tour of Barbados. You know, just like any bog standard comprehensive.

But these are places to which well-heeled socialists like to send their own children because they can say these schools aren’t technically private, just voluntary-aided (while being about as far from the dump I attended as you can possibly get). This sly manoeuvre allows Ms Williams to air her spite towards bourgeois parents who wish they could escape the comprehensive system. It’s like something from the Soviet Union of the 1920s. I mean, where but the Guardian would you expect to find a national columnist gloating at parents who can’t quite afford the education they’d hoped to provide for their children?

AC1

> It's Nineteen-Eighty-Four vs Brave New World and Huxley's nightmare is winning.

It's turning into 1984 X BNW without the victory gin, cheap fags or soma.

dcardno

... but they do seem to have the "boot stomping on a human face, forever" part down quite well - so at least they've got that going for them.

b moe

"Where are all the successful matriarchies?"

Africa. According to the cultural anthropologists.

Jason

"Where are all the successful matriarchies?"

Africa. According to the cultural anthropologists.

Their definition of "successful" must be different than mine.

dicentra

And yet those schools are where they’d like to consign other people’s children

If you put the term "animal husbandry" into your "What Leftists Want" file, an awful lot of what they do and say becomes crystal clear.

Rich Rostrom

The collectivist attitude toward parenting and the family has this grain of truth in it: some parents are incompetent or malicious, some families are oppressive. Even complete families are not always good.

What the Left does with this fact is perverse:

Ignore and deny causes of bad parenting that are politically inconvenient (single motherhood, toxic non-Western cultures).

Invent politically correct definitions and causes of bad parenting (patriarchy!).

Define state intervention as the only possible remedy for any parenting problem, and establish the broadest possible authority for it. (With great coercive powers; dicentra, Big Mommy may not brandish a Great Big Stick, but she has lots of small sticks that can subdue individuals.)

The savage hostility to private education seems to be a British thing. Non-state elite schools are a relatively minor phenomenon in the U.S.

George W. Bush attended Sam Houston Elementary School and San Jacinto Junior High School (and then Andover Prep).

I hear that getting one's child into the right private school (starting at kindergarten) is a Big Deal among wealthy New Yorkers (all liberals). It doesn't seem to matter much elsewhere (certainly not here in Chicago). And American leftists don't froth about it.

I think the British left's obsession with it is a tribal heritage: British "public schools" represent the class tradition they hate. American "prep" schools are seen as a regional (northeastern) peculiarity, not a national institution.

The perversity of the British left is that because some parents fail their children, they want to restrict and punish other parents who do too much for their children.

I suppose there's a demand for hostages in there somewhere: forcing the children of concerned and caring or just middle-/upper-class families into state schools is supposed to make the government allocate "adequate" funding, and make the parents "get involved" in fixing problematic school administration.

That "hostage demand" has been an on-going theme in the U.S. for over a generation. When urban public school systems started getting large numbers of blacks (many of them underclass), white parents moved their children out - initially to different neighborhoods. That "segregation" prompted "busing" of students to "integrate" schools. Busing of black students to schools in white neighborhoods prompted some rather low-brow hostility; busing white students into black neighborhoods resulted in their moving to private schools, or to suburbs. ("White flight"). As the white student base shrank, the flight accelerated.

All through this process, leftists asserted that the public schools were a vital social institution. Parents and taxpayers should be forced to use them and make them work - the failures of public schools were the fault of the most capable and concerned parents (and white parents) for "abandoning" public school systems.

However, this rhetoric bounced off the determination of parents to protect their children. Compulsory transfers of white students to black-majority schools proved politically impossible; the Supreme Court ruled that "cross-boundary" transfers could not be required, making suburbs a sanctuary.
Urban school districts abandoned the impossible goal of general "integration", and established elite "magnet schools" to retain the remaining white students.

(This hasn't always worked. A Federal judge took over the Kansas City school system for 20 years. He forced the city and the state of Missouri to spend vast amounts to make the KC system attractive to white students from the KC suburbs. Which completely failed.)

That may be why private schooling is not savagely condemned by the American left. Too many of them live in "hip" urban areas where the choice is between private schools and public schools swarming with semi-feral black underclass children.

(I do not exaggerate. There is a high school not far from me known as "Sullivan Fight School", because every day when classes let out, gang fights between black students erupted in the neighboring streets. And Sullivan is in a clean, predominantly white neighborhood. The fighting was eventually suppressed by having police present every day till the students dispersed.)

Aside from a few utter fanatics, American leftists balk at sacrifing their own children's safety. They get the kids into magnet schools, or private schools (on some excuse). And then they shut up. (Except to attack the idea of school vouchers, which would allow non-rich and even poor families to get private schooling for their kids.)

Perhaps the most blatant example of this is in Washington DC. The "Sidwell Friends School" is very popular with the political elite. Tuition is $35,000/year, but that's pocket change in what has become the wealthiest city in America. Any number of big-name liberals have sent their children there, including Obama - a lot more than have ever sent children to DC's public schools.

David

Rich,

I suppose there’s a demand for hostages in there somewhere: forcing the children of concerned and caring or just middle-/upper-class families into state schools is supposed to make the government allocate “adequate” funding, and make the parents “get involved” in fixing problematic school administration… Leftists asserted that… Parents and taxpayers should be forced to use them and make them work.

Bingo. And that’s probably the kindest interpretation. Needless to say, quite a few readers of the Guardian and Observer approved of Mr McKenna’s coercive sentiments. One added sourly: “Ban all public schools then see how quick Mummy and Daddy with money want to get involved in raising the standards for all rather than just their little darlings.” Like McKenna, Zoe Williams, Arabella Weir, Polly Toynbee, George Monbiot and most of their approving commenters, this reader assumed that parents who can afford private education exist as some discrete and uniform “privileged” class, as if no sacrifice were ever involved, and no risk of failure. This assumption was disproved by the very premise of Williams’ own article – that parents’ means and circumstances may change significantly (thus allowing opportunities to gloat) – though Zoe went on assuming it anyway. Logic be damned, there’s class war to act out.

In May 2012, while professing his own “belief in social justice” and calling for the “banning” of private schools, Monbiot wrote, “Rather than opting out of the state education system, they would be obliged to fight for its improvement and better funding.” Unfortunately, the shortcomings of comprehensive education aren’t just, or even chiefly, a matter of funding; it’s also an issue of intake, disorder, behaviour and ethos. Money won’t change the bell curves of ability and aptitude and it won’t shift egalitarian ideology, which, in my experience, was the major problem. Giving socialists more funding won’t inhibit their socialism.

At my own state schools there were plenty of teachers whose egalitarian leanings were at least as pronounced as those of Kevin McKenna, resulting in a conviction that the teaching and correction of grammar was insufficiently progressive and therefore superfluous. (At secondary school, my long-suffering German teacher couldn’t believe that his ‘A’ stream students had no idea what a subordinate clause was, nor any basic knowledge of the structure of their national language. He had to spend much of his lessons providing remedial English tuition.) Despite this experience, which is hardly uncommon, such views are still propagated by, among others, the communist, poet and BBC regular Michael Rosen, who tells fellow Guardian readers that “there’s no such thing as correct grammar.” For Rosen, the learning and correction of grammar are inegalitarian, and should therefore be frowned upon.

If the prevailing thinking in a school is one based on the propagation of such egalitarian thinking, then the biggest problem facing its pupils, especially bright pupils, is the thinking itself. And if children aren’t being taught English grammar or even spelling on ideological grounds, then not teaching grammar and spelling in a slightly nicer classroom won’t make much of a difference.

Anthony P

Arabella Weir insisted that parents must make sacrifices - not for their own children, of course, which would be selfish and irresponsible – but of their own children.

I can hardly believe that Arabella Weir article. Excuse my language but these people are fucking evil.

David

Anthony,

Excuse my language but these people are fucking evil.

It’s not what I’d hold up as a model of enlightened parenting. As with Jonathan Miller, there’s a suspicion that the Great Socialist Experiment is more important to Ms Weir than the wellbeing of her children. And, by extension, other people’s children. Weir’s Guardian article - perversely titled I Just Want the Best for My Kids - came with the following caption:

Despite their liberal pretensions, many white middle-class parents – especially those in London – shun their local school. The underlying snobbery and racism are shocking, says Arabella Weir, who wouldn’t dream of denying her children the privilege of being educated in their socially mixed state school.

See? Comprehensive schooling is a privilege for middle-class children – especially the white ones – even if the school in question has a bad reputation, demoralised staff and “a fairly poor Ofsted report.” Also note the emphasis on social mixing, which seems to mean making your children mingle with the “disadvantaged” and lots of exotic knuckleheads, even if those knuckleheads are precisely the kind of people your children will then have to learn to avoid: “At a state school your kids will learn to live alongside and appreciate other kids from many diverse and different cultures… They will learn… who to be wary of, who to avoid, how to keep their heads down… They will learn to make room for people of different abilities.”

And a reluctance to sacrifice your children’s educational opportunities, maybe even their safety, is – can only be - “snobbery and racism.” (Gosh, what other motive could there possibly be?) This, ladies and gentlemen, is what the psychology of socialism looks like.

Andrew Zalotocky

There is one piece of good news in all this. Dimbleby used the word "libertarian" and obviously assumed that his audience would be familiar with it. That wouldn't have happened even ten years ago.

dcardno

Further to Rich Rostrom's comments (July 14 04:39):
http://www.amren.com/ar/2009/07/index.html#cover

There must be something in the air... this dates from 2009, but I just saw it linked on http://esr.ibiblio.org/ in his July 6 entry.

dcardno

One added sourly: "Ban all public schools then see how quick Mummy and Daddy with money want to get involved in raising the standards for all rather than just their little darlings."

Yes, but... Our public schools (at least in our neck of the woods) aren't as bad as some described above - but even at that just try to get involved in changing let alone raising the standards of education. There is little chance of a teacher getting sacked (or even reprimanded) for incompetence, and most of educational policy is driven by ideological (and financial) battles between the (quelle surprise, left-leaning) teacher's union and the government of the day, whether left, right or centre. In these contests, children (or at least their education and school experience) are held as convenient pawns while the union decries the "cuts to funding," despite increases in per-student operating grants of ~1% annually (in real dollar terms) over the past 12 years.
I always find it intriguing when public-school teachers place their own children in a private school, actions speaking louder than words, after all.

Ray

This, ladies and gentlemen, is what the psychology of socialism looks like.

Bravo, David. *hits tipjar*
Have a drink on me.

David

Have a drink on me.

Your host endorses this message wholeheartedly.

Charles Hammond Jr

I don't understand the Left's hatred of patriarchy. No system is perfect of course, but patriarchal societies have lasted a long time. Where are all the successful matriarchies?

Posted by: Jason | July 12, 2013 at 18:39

IT is not the Patriarchy they hate so much as it is the Core Family Unit. The Destruction of Patriarchy is but one step along that greater goal. The Family not only fosters and encourages freedom but reinforces the notion that we need to be free.

In order to destroy freedom, they must destroy the family. In order to destroy the family, they must destroy Patriarchy, fatherhood, and fathers by extension.

As for your other question about where all the successful matriarchies went... I hope you already know the answer to that question.

AC1

Rich Rostrom,
The whole child benefit payments thing seems to be a lesson in Blazing Saddles style hostage taking.

Pay up or the child gets hurt.

Never a good idea to reward hostage takers

***

Apparently, the “diffusion” of the family unit – which is to say, absent fathers, hardship and subsequent dependence on the state – “is one of the most exciting things to happen to the American social pattern since sexual liberation.”

"Lone parent families are increasing at a rate of more than 20,000 a year and will total more than two million by the time of the next election, according to a major new report."

http://www.centreforsocialjustice.org.uk/UserStorage/pdf/Press%20releases%202013/CSJ-Press-Release-Lone-Parents.pdf

Utopia!

David

“Lone parent families are increasing at a rate of more than 20,000 a year and will total more than two million by the time of the next election…”

I feel an urge to quote Mark Steyn:

For the first three-and-a-half centuries of American settlement the bastardy rate was a flat line in the basement of the graph, stuck at 2 or 3 percent all the way to the eve of the Sixties. Today over 40 percent of American births are “non-marital”… The most reliable constituency for Big Government is single women, for whom the state is a girl’s best friend, the sugar daddy whose cheques never bounce. A society in which a majority of births are out of wedlock cannot be other than a Big Government welfare society. Ruining a nation’s finances is one thing; debauching its human capital is far harder to fix.

I can’t help thinking this “exciting” “anti-family” model might be losing its lustre.

Jason

Charles Hammond wrote: "As for your other question about where all the successful matriarchies went... I hope you already know the answer to that question."

I know that various feminists have claimed that prior to the rise of Patriarchy, the entire world was a Matriarchal paradise, but I'm not aware of any empirical evidence that supports that case. And given that such societies, if they did exist, failed to create civilizations and have failed to survive into the modern, or even the historical, era, I don't know that they could be considered "successful" by any meaningful metric.

As a model for a hunter/gatherer society, matriarchy might work, but I have no particular desire to live in such a society, and I doubt that most feminists would embrace such a lifestyle either.

the wolf

My wife is a nurse at an inner-city hospital in Chicago. Penny and Schwartz are welcome to visit and observe the effects of absentee dads and barely literate moms ("educated" by public schools) on their offspring.

sackcloth and ashes

'The Millers and the Weirs, behind their smokescreen of egalitarian posturing, are in fact the greatest imaginable beneficiaries of class privilege'.

IIRC, didn't Polly Toynbee managed to make it to Oxford despite only getting one A level?

sackcloth and ashes

According to Wiki, Pollyanna went to Holland Park School, the 'flagship for comprehensive education':

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holland_Park_School

'In the early 1960s, each school year was divided into A, B, C, D, and E streams up until the 3rd year. As the groups were so large, they were again divided, typically into 3. Later the "A" "B" etc. grading was considered to be bad for children's self-esteem, so "A" "B" and "C" were replaced by "H" "P" and "S" (Holland Park School).

In the late 1970s, under Derek Rushworth, streaming was totally scrapped in favour of total egalitarianism. Another aspect of egalitarian thought was that many school traditions were scrapped and in the late 1970s there were no awards for academic achievement, in order not to demoralise low achievers. Dr Rushworth nevertheless favoured high achievement in niche areas, and himself continued to teach Latin to children who requested lessons. His motto was "Everyone should know about everything," and critics saw this as leading to a dumbing down of the curriculum.

The theory was that poorly achieving students would perform better if not segregated, but rather immersed in an equal learning environment. Some argue that such and (sic) educational philosophy causes teaching to drop to the lowest common denominator, and in the 1990s the school began to revert to more traditional teaching practices'.

Interesting.

As a coda, the 'timeline of events' notes that in 1985 'the Head, Dr Rushworth, was beaten up and had both his ankles broken'. A mere coincidence, I presume.

David

sackcloth and ashes,

Later the “A” “B” etc. grading was considered to be bad for children’s self-esteem, so “A” “B” and “C” were replaced by “H” “P” and “S” (Holland Park School).

Heh. The comprehensive I went to wasn’t quite like Holland Park. It didn’t, for instance, have an indoor swimming pool or even a “butterfly room.” It did, though, have a number of predatory thugs, one of whom amused himself by using a bootlace to whip and cut the faces of anyone looking overly studious. He and the other predators tended to single out anyone who seemed too clever for their liking or, by their reckoning, “posh.” Which is to say, just about anyone able to string words together. Oddly, the self-esteem of their victims, or indeed their safety, didn’t seem a priority for the school. Which may explain why I became quite good at throwing chairs in order to deter similar treatment. Successfully, I might add.

Happy days.

JeremiadBullfrog

As I understand it, the research behind the call for the abolition of things like "tracking" and "honors" versions of courses, says that it's no the "poor" ability students, but the "average" ability students who benefit from having the "high" ability students in the same class with them. Two plausible non-mutually exclusive explanations I've heard for this are: 1) If you have a "regular" and an "honors" class, teachers will demand less from the "regular" class; and 2) If an "honors" class exists, the students who are not in it will see that as a suggestion that they're not all that smart, hence they won't work as hard or achieve as much.

I think those are fair points, and I think that it's true that "mixed" classes could work very well under the right circumstances. But the rub lies in those last four words. That is, to derive the benefits promised by a "mixed" class, you'd have to make a lot of assumptions about teacher competence, student maturity, and administrative support (among other things) which I'm sure are nowhere close to resembling normal circumstances.

But of course, the failure of promised results to materialize just means we haven't thrown enough money at the problem...

dicentra

If you mix in the smart kids with the dumb kids and shanghai the drama teacher into teaching 10th-grade English, the class never progresses beyond capitalization and punctuation because the dumb kids keep flunking the quizzes. It was the only class where I sat in the back, dinked around, and was yelled at by the teacher for disruption.

Consequently, I never really learned English formally, because 10th grade was where we were supposed to learn parts of speech and diagramming and the like. Had I not learned Spanish and a bit of Latin, I'd never know.

If you're in the "stupid" or "less stupid" class but it's going at your pace, then you'll learn something. If you're in over your head, you'll learn nothing, because it's going to fast for you. If you're in a class that's too slow for you, you also learn nothing, because they're covering stuff you already know.

Furthermore, when you put them in mixed-ability groups, the smart kids to all the work and the dumb kids just sit there, grateful to not have to do anything.

Just make sure that in gym class, you're also dividing kids by ability: most of the brainiacs will be in the "dumb" athletic group, which helps with the humility thing. I also would have been in the "dumb" classes for math and chemistry.

Most people are pretty good at something; not all of those somethings are measured in schoolwork.

School doesn't last forever: deal with being bad at something and then when you're out of school, do what you can and be happy.

sackcloth and ashes

'The comprehensive I went to wasn’t quite like Holland Park. It didn’t, for instance, have an indoor swimming pool or even a “butterfly room.” It did, though, have a number of predatory thugs, one of whom amused himself by using a bootlace to whip and cut the faces of anyone looking overly studious. He and the other predators tended to single out anyone who seemed too clever for their liking or, by their reckoning, “posh.” Which is to say, just about anyone able to string words together. Oddly, the self-esteem of their victims, or indeed their safety, didn’t seem a priority for the school. Which may explain why I became quite good at throwing chairs in order to deter similar treatment. Successfully, I might add'.

One of the Holland Park alumni, John-Paul Flintoff, wrote a book ('Comp: A Survivor's Tale') to describe what being educated in the school was like. I haven't read it, but the summaries of it look pretty grim.

About a week ago one of the ITV channels showed the Alan Clarke drama 'Scum', which provides an unflinching picture of Borstal. Reflecting on it and Flintoff's own work, I found comparisons between the two institutions which the ideologues behind comprehensive education would no doubt find appalling. Admittedly, Holland Park in Flintoff's time (and the inner city comp my mum taught at) didn't have brutal warders, but both institutions had a fatuous and ideologically hidebound head/governor spouting platitudes, whilst the grim reality was that the institutions concerned were like gladiatorial hell-holes, in which the strong inmates/pupils bullied the weak mercilessly.

Flintoff apparently makes it clear in his memoir that in order to cope in Dr Rushworth's utopia, he had to orchestrate the bullying of weaker pupils in order to avoid being picked on himself. Being in his early teens I can understand his cynical survival methods (hell, I would have done the same in his shoes) but I can't help feeling a sense of disgust. How many kids had their lives wrecked because the 'progressive' head and teacher remained above the fray, and created the conditions for a vicious form of social Darwinism which you yourself experienced in your own school? How many teachers were turned into nervous wrecks as a result of their own experiences of mob rule by pupils who were allowed to abuse and attack them with impunity?

The Rushworths of this world have created their own little Borstals, and have tried to pretend that they were building something different. I thank my parents daily for the fact that they put their hard-earned money together to put me through a fee-paying school. God knows where I'd be if they hadn't.

David

sackcloth and ashes,

One of the Holland Park alumni, John-Paul Flintoff, wrote a book (‘Comp: A Survivor’s Tale’) to describe what being educated in the school was like.

I may have to pick up a copy and see how it compares. It’s often interesting to see how socialist theory collides with reality. It’s just a pity it has to happen at the expense of actual people.

On a rating of A to E, with A being decent and E being bedlam, I’d say the comprehensive I attended was probably a D. A few months ago I checked the Ofsted report for the school – now a “community arts college” – and it’s still grim reading. “Attainment in key subjects” – English, maths and science - is rated “low” and “well below average.” Attendance is a major issue. And it’s worth pointing out that at the time the school was pretty typical of others in the area. In local terms, it wasn’t regarded as a failed school; it wasn’t remarkable at all. It was how schools were. I don’t mean to suggest any great martyrdom on my part. I managed to avoid the worst of what went on, thanks to a mix of humour and the aforementioned proficiency in throwing chairs. But I saw other kids, including friends, being made miserable. I’ve mentioned before how one new arrival - well-spoken and obviously from a fairly middle-class background – was bullied immediately. Jostling, theft, intimidation – the usual crap. And the fact that he was smart, amiable and scrupulously polite was precisely why he was picked on.

But remember, the Observer’s class warrior Barbara Ellen wants us to believe that the treatment he received, along with many others, is “part of an instinctive protest that lies at the very core of sociopolitical emancipation.” The teenagers who stole his bag and threw the contents out of a window were “responding to oppression.” And their shoving and intimidation, which ran for days on end, was apparently “an instinctive protest against inequality.” He, being “posher” than them, is somehow expendable. His misery, and the miseries of those like him, doesn’t count. Because the oiks who were stealing his stuff and getting in his face, just because they could, they were the real victims. Remember too that this well-spoken pupil, the one who was being picked on, is exactly the kind of person that the Guardian’s Zoe Williams would like to see tormented and humiliated in the name of “social justice.” (“As for vindictive, ha! Good.”)

Again, the psychology of socialism. It excuses all manner of malice and makes a person stupid.

sackcloth and ashes

'But remember, the Observer’s class warrior Barbara Ellen wants us to believe that the treatment he received, along with many others, is “part of an instinctive protest that lies at the very core of sociopolitical emancipation.” The teenagers who stole his bag and threw the contents out of a window were “responding to oppression.” And their shoving and intimidation, which ran for days on end, was apparently “an instinctive protest against inequality.” He, being “posher” than them, is somehow expendable. His misery, and the miseries of those like him, doesn’t count. Because the oiks who were stealing his stuff and getting in his face, just because they could, they were the real victims. Remember too that this well-spoken pupil, the one who was being picked on, is exactly the kind of person that the Guardian’s Zoe Williams would like to see tormented and humiliated in the name of “social justice.”'

If they had experienced that level of bullying, would they have stood for it?

Rob

Sooner or later you run out of chairs.

Ironically, by using the phrase 'sociopolitical emancipation' Ellen would have earned an immediate and merciless beating at precisely the sort of school she wants people like her to attend.

I can only assume it is the upper middle class Left's standard self-loathing and hatred projected onto others, as per normal.

Socialist theory collides with people, not reality.

David

sackcloth and ashes,

If they had experienced that level of bullying, would they have stood for it?

Hopefully not. But if their own parents had pretended to have the values they themselves pretend to have maybe they’d have been made to put up with it. In the name of fairness and being “a good, responsible citizen.” Either way, it does rather show how Marxoid dogma excuses routine malice and leads to moral absurdity. Like Fabian Tassano, I tend to think that before leftwing columnists profess the alleged virtues of comprehensive schooling they should first have spent a couple of years in one, at the very least. And not in one of the more fashionable ones.

David

Rob,

Ironically, by using the phrase ‘sociopolitical emancipation’ Ellen would have earned an immediate and merciless beating at precisely the sort of school she wants people… to attend.

It’s rather like how her fellow Guardianista Zoe Williams tells us how lovely and morally improving comprehensives are while having little direct experience of the subject. Which makes me wonder what would have happened if Zoe’s own children – named Thurston and Harper – had walked through the doors of the shithole I attended. It seems quite likely that they’d have attracted unwelcome attention simply for being named Thurston and Harper.

Sooner or later you run out of chairs.

The trick is to make just one or two very dramatic displays, winging a couple of the thugs when they don’t expect it, ideally drawing blood, and thereby deflating their egos. Once you’ve done the whole I-Can-Play-Psychopath-Too routine, it buys you a bit of peace. They’re not quite sure what to expect and generally go and pick on someone else because it’s less risky. Which is, I grant you, unfortunate for whomever that someone is.

Watcher

The more of this I see and read, the more I realise it's all just a game. An amusement involving some smug self-styled intellectuals trying to make new 'fairer' rules but a game moving towards an outcome that will result in the whole board being knocked off the table.

And then the table gets trashed, too.

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