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Anarchy Revisited [an Inquiry Into the Public Education Dilemma]

Anarchy Revisited [an Inquiry Into the Public Education Dilemma]

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01/15/2014

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JournalofLiMrtarianStudies.
Vol.2.No.4,pp.357-372.
©
PergamonPres,Ltd.1978.PrintedinGreatBritain.
0364-6408/781
12OH)357
$02.(10/0
ANARCHYREVISITED:ANINQUIRYINTO
THE
PUBLICEDUCATIONDILEMMA
*
ROBERTH.CHAPPELL
ProfessionalTeacherProgram,UniversityofMaine
Publicschoolinghasbecomeaprodigiousbureaucraticinstitutionthatoperatesasarigorousmaintenancesystem.ItsfunctionistoinculcatethemasseswithacceptableideologiesandtoweedoutdissenterswhoserecalcitrantbehaviorandspontaneityareviewedasdangeroustothedemocratictenetsoftheUnitedStates.Ascompulsoryattendancelawssurfacedandwereenacted,theeducationalmonolithbecameevermoresecurelyentrench-edinAmericansociety.Publiceducationhasbecomeabreakwaterinterruptingthedynamicsofinquiry,dissentandinnovationwhichareessentialtodemocracyandtothehumancondi-tion.Inlightoftheaboveitseemstimelytoreevaluatethehistoricalcritiquesofpubliceducationthatapparentlyhavelargelybeenig-nored,misinterpretedandmisconstrued.Arevitalizationandreexaminationofthemajorcriticismsofthe19thand20thcenturyanar-chistscouldprovideacatalystwhichmightrevitalizethearresteddevelopmentofAmericaneducationandlife.Themajoranarchistcriticsofeducation.WilliamGodwin.PeterKropotkin,Pierre-JosephProudhon,MikhailBakunin,FranciscoFerrer,LeoTolstoyandMaxStirner,allbeliev-edtovaryingdegreesthatmanwasessentiallyabenigncreaturewithapotentialforgoodness.However,theysuggestedthatthehabitsandin-stitutionsofauthoritymanifestedineconomics,politics,education,andinsome
·TheoriginalversionofthisarticlewaspreparedfortheSummerResearchSeminarontheOpponentsofPublicSchooling.heldinNewYorkCity.June-August1977.andsponsoredbytheCenterforIndependentEducationandtheCenterforLibertarianStudies.
casesreligion,onlyservedtowarpthenaturalgoodnessandwisdomthatistheessenceofmanandmankind.Consequently,significanteduca-tionalchangemustexpressthenaturalsen-timentsofanunstructuredmasswho,throughtheassociationandutilizationofintellectualcommunesandcooperativeswillarriveatanewsynthesis-anewdirectionforAmericaneducation.Thispaperwillbeprimarilyconcernedwithidentificationanddocumentationoftheeduca-tionalviewpointsespousedbytheEuropeananarchistsofthenineteenthcentury.Asecondsection
will
highlighttheideasoftwooftheprominentcontemporaryopponentsofpublicschooling,IvanIIlichandthelatePaulGood-man.Followingthis,athirdsectionwillat-tempttodepictthecommonalitiesbetweentheEuropeanprecursorsandthecontemporary"deschoolers".WilliamGodwin(1756-1836)isconsideredtobethefirstEuropeantodevelopacom-prehensiveanarchisticcritiqueinhis
EnquiryConcerningPoliticalJustice
(1793).Hisblatantattackongovernment,whichheviewedasanunnecessaryevilthatshouldbeintroducedassparinglyaspossible,andhisbeliefinman'scapacitytodevelophisintellectindependently,weretoformthefoundationsoftheanarchistictradition.
[1)
Hisidealsocietywasegalitarianandcompletelyanarchistic,buthisabhorrenceofviolenceprecludedrevolutionasameanstothisend.Godwintoleratedtheideaofalooselyknitdemocracyasatransitoryphaseevolvingintoanultimatelystatelesssociety.Godwin'soppositiontoasystemofnationaleducationwasbaseduponamaximofthe
357
 
358ROBERTH.CHAPPELL
Enlightenment-socialprogresscouldonlycomeaboutthroughthedevelopmentandap-plicationofhumanreason.Godwinbelievedthathumanreasonandindividualitywereanti-theticaltoastatecontrollededucationalsystemwhichwouldservetobolsterthepowerofthepoliticalmachineryofthestate.
...theprojectofanationaleducationoughtuniformlytobediscouragedonaccountofitsobviousalliancewithnationalgovernment.Thisisanallianceofamoreformidablenaturethantheoldandmuchcontestedallianceofchurchandstate.Beforeweputsopowerfulamachineunderthedirectionofsoam·biguousanagent.itbehoovesustoconsiderwellwhatitisthatwedo.Governmentwillnotfailtoemployit,tostrengthenitshands.andperpetuateitsinstitutions.
[21
Godwinalsodismissedthepossibilityoftheparticipationofthechurchineducation.Thechurchwas.anantiquatedanddogmaticinstitu-tionthatindoctrinatedthemasseswithideasthatwerestaticandrestrictive.
...eveninthepettyinstitutionsofSundaySchools.thechieflessonsthataretaughtareasuperstitiousvenerationfortheChurchofEngland,andtobow
to
everymaninahandsomecoat.Allthisisdirectlycon-trarytothetrueinterestsofmankind.Allthismustbeunlearnedbeforetheybegintobewise.!"
Godwin'sunderstandingoftheSundaySchools'roleineducationisworthnoting.InBurtonPollin'sthesis,
EducationandEnlight-enmentintheWorksofWilliamGodwin,
theauthorindicatesthatthereisroomtobelievethattheEnglishSundaySchools,setupbyRogerRaikesofGloucesterin
1780,
werein-tendedtoimbuepoorchildrenwithasenseofdisciplinethroughreligiousandelementaryeducation.AfterthedevelopmentoftheSun-daySchoolunions
(1785),
theseschoolswerewidelyregardedasinstitutionsofsocialcontrolthatdidnotinanywaylimitthecheapsupplyofchildlabour.[41Godwin'sintensepolemicagainstthepro-ponentsofnationaleducation(e.g.GeorgeDryer,MaryHayes,ThomasPaine,EdmundBurke)dismissedtheargumentthatanationalsystemcouldbedefendedassupplyingthecitizenwitharudimentaryappreciationofthelaw.Godwinbelievedthatjustlawwasself-evidenttotherationalmanandcouldbediff-ferentiatedfromthetechnicallawmanufac-turedandinterpretedbythecourts.Thetrain-inginthesetechnicalaspectsoflawwouldbesuperfluouswithinaproperconditionofsociety.Becausethisconditionofsocietywasanidealandnotyetareality,Godwinconcededalimitedroleofsocialcontroltothegovernment.Inhisongoingargumentagainstnationaleducation,hedeclared,inthesecondeditionof
EnquiryConcerningPoliticalJustice(1796),
It
isnotthebusiness
0
fgovernment...tobecomethepreceptorofitssubjects.Itsofficeisnottoinspireourvirtues,thatwouldbeahopelesstask;itismerelytochecktheseexcesses,whichthreatenthegeneralsecuri-ty.rsr
Godwinwasnotinclinedtodenytheurgentneedtoimproveliteracyandtodevelopawiderandadeepercultureinsociety.Hefeltthatthiscouldbeaccomplishedthroughtheuseofliterature!"andthroughvoluntarydiscussiongroupsledbycadresoftheenlightenedwhichwoulddisperseknowledgebyeducatinganeverincreasingnumberofpeople.Needlesstosay,theGovernmentandtheChurchwouldhavenopartinthisvoluntaryundertaking."!Godwindetectedaninherentprobleminhisinformalandvoluntarysystemofeducation.HepointedoutthatitwouldbedifficulttofindasubstantialnumberofenlightenedteachersformosthadbeenindoctrinatedbytheteachingsofChurchandState.Apartfromasmallgroupoffriendswhosharedhiseduca-tionalviews(ThomasHolcroft,
a
liberalnovelistandplaywright;DavidWilliams,aspokesmanforadvancededucationalviewsin
LecturesonEducation,
andahandfulofothers[81),thevastmajorityofpedagogueswereimbuedwithasenseofservilitytothestate,inGodwin'sopinion.
It
shouldbenotedthatGod-windidmakesomelimitedconcessionstopubliceducationinhisessayof"OfPublicandPrivateEducation"in
TheEnquirer;Reflec-tionsonEducation,Manners,andLiterature
(1797)YI
Theseconcessionsontheadvantageofthesocializingaspectsofpublicschoolingasopposedtoprivateeducation,couldhavebeenpromptedbyGodwin'srealizationthattheenlightenedteacherwasanendangeredspecies.
It
ismorelikelythathispartialacknowledge-mentofpubliceducationwasduetothepublicopinionofthetime
(1797).
BecauseofthedismalfailureoftheFrenchRevolution,which
 
ANARCHYREVISITED:ANINQUIRYINTOTHEPUBLICEDUCATIONDILEMMA
hadresultedinautocraticrulebyaviciousoligarchy,mostoftheantigovernmentliteratureespousingindividualfreedomwasconsideredbymanytobeinsidious.InFebruary,1793,
AnEnquiryConcerningPoliticalJustice
wasconsideredbymanytobeamajorphilosophicaltreatiseworthyofpraise.ButbytheendoftheTerrorin1794andcer-tainlyby1797,Wordsworth,ColeridgeandthegreatmajorityoftheEnglishintellectualcom-munityhadturnedagainstboththerevolutionandGodwin'sanarchism.Godwin'spartialacknowledgementofpubliceducationcouldalsohavearisenfromthein-fluenceofhiswifeMaryWollstonecraftwhomhemetin1791andmarriedinMarchof1797.(10)MaryWollstonecraftwasaproponentoffreegovernmentcoeducation,thecentralideaofhermajorwork,
AVindicationojtheRightsojWomen(1792).
However,themajoranarchistictenetsdevelopedin
PoliticalJustice
(1793)laterreap-pearedin
TheEnquirer.
Theeducationalrevi-sionthatappearedinthelattercanbesimplyexplainedasaconcessiontoGodwin'scritics.!"?sincehisattackonnationaleduca-tionwasnotdeletedinthesecondandthirdedi-tionsof
PoliticalJustice
in1796and1798.Godwin'sviewsoneducationcanbesum-marizedasfollows:theinstrumentformoralpoliticalandbasiceducationcannotb;associatedwithanygovernmentoreccle-siasticalinstitution,norcanthiseducationbecarriedoutbyanyeducationalbodieswhethersecularorreligious.Educationcanonlybedevelopedbysocialinteractionandcommunicationguidedbygroupsofenlightenedpreceptorswhowillinvestigateavarietyoftopicsandsharetheirconclusions."Theirhearerswillbeinstigatedtoimparttheirac-quisitionstostillotherhearers,andthecircleofinstructionwillperpetuallyincrease.Reasonwillspread,andnotabruteandunintelligentsympathy."
['2]
WilliamGodwin'sradicalcritiqueofsocietyandnationaleducationappearstoberelativelybenignwhencomparedwiththethoughtsofMaxStirner(1806-1856).Inhisprofoundlyoriginalmonograph,
TheEgoandHisOwn
(1844)Stimerlashedoutatanyandallformsof
359
authorityandindoctrination.
Justastheschoolmenphilosophizedonlyinsidethebeliefofthechurch...withouteverthrowingadoubtuponthisbelief;asauthors
iill
wholefoliosontheStatewithoutcallinginquestionthefixedideaoftheStateitself,asournewspapersarecrammedwithpoliticsbecausetheyareconjuredintothefancythatmanwascreatedtobeazoonpolitician-soalsosub-
j~ts
ve~etateins?bjection,virtuouspeopleinvirtue,~Iberals
In
~umamty,withouteverputtingthesefixedI~easoftheirstothesearchingknifeofcriticism.Un-dislodgeable,likeamadman'sdelusion,thosethoughtsstandonafinnfooting,andhewhodoubtsthem-layshandsonthesacred.
I"]
Stirner'scentralargumentwastheownershipofselfwhichcanbedescribedasabsolutein-dividuality.ToStirner,liberalhumanismwasasdangerousasanyformofgovernmentforithadbecomethechurchofthesecularageandthereforesuppressedindividualinitiativeandfreedomofwill.Stirner'scritiqueofeducationfollowssuit.Theimplicitdangerofeducationalmethodologywasthattheinternalizationofknowledgeservedtocontrolthewillofthein-dividualwhen,infact,theoppositeshouldoc-cur.Knowledgeshouldbeusedbythein-dividualwhen,infact,theoppositeshouldoccur.Knowledgeshouldbeusedbythein-In
TheFalsePrincipleojOurEducation
(1842),whichappearedinKarlMarx'spaper
NeueRheinischeZeitung,
Stirnerindicatedthatknowledgeandtheschoolweresynonomouswithlife.Thefreemanwouldeducatehimselfthroughunstructuredexperiences,sinceanypedagogicalinfluencewouldimpedethepathtofreedom
and
resultinastateof
submissive-
ness.!'"Stirnermadeadistinctionbetweenthefreemanandaneducatedman.Theeducatedmanwassubservienttohisthoughtswhichweredominatedbyacceptablesocialvaluesdictatedb.ythestate.Thefreemanoregoistwasrespon-SIbleonlytohisindividualwill.Thewillwasthemasterofhisknowledgeandthoughts.WithinahistoricalcontextStirnerarguedthat,followingtheReformation,theexclusivehumanisticmodeofeducationbasedontheclassicsraiseditsbeneficiariesabovethemasseswhoregardedtheeducatedmanasanauthori-ty.
...educationasapower,raisedhimwhopossesseditovertheweak,wholackedit,andtheeducatedmancountedinhiscircle...asthemightythepowerfultheimposingone:forhewasanauthority.'!"'

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