Re: [Discuss-sudbury-model] on universal suffrage

From: Michael Kinnucan <Michael_Kinnucan_at_buacademy.org>
Date: Sun May 18 16:37:01 2003

Re: "Democratization" of traditional schools, I quite agree. John Taylor
Gatto noted in "Underground History" the total anarchy caused by this sort
of movement in the public schools in the sixties and seventies, and I've
observed it myself. There are two ways to maintain order in a society: you
give everyone an interest in keeping order, or you give one person with
the interest in keeping order enough power to scare everyone else. The
former method is obviously preferable but hardly works in traditional
schools, where the students are essentially prisoners. The latter method
was working fairly well in my parents' day ('50s); they didn't learn much
in school, but at least they had a quiet place to read in class and
weren't subject to constant physical disruptions of class, because even
the most disruptive students were afraid of being hit or somesuch. The
current situation is totally out of control: most of the students hate
school with good reason as always, but they know their teachers can do
little against any offense less extreme physical assault on faculty.

Re: Athenian democracy: I think it was Mark Twain who said that democracy
is the worst form of government except for all the others. My view of
Platonic political theory is that Plato didn't have the written history we
do telling him just how bad all the others really are; he figured that you
could just put smart people in charge and everything would be alright. If
this is true, the trouble is of course finding the smart people, and it's
a problem we've found insurmountable. Thus Greek elitism would be
justified and merely impractical. Also, I don't believe this elitism was
manifest in their political suffrage system; it should be noted that the
landed/unlanded difference made a much greater difference in an agrarian
society than it does now, so not giving votes to serf equivalents made
more sense. That is, today someone can own an apartment in America and
have a solid interest in keeping the country in one piece; in Rome or
Athens, the plebians had somewhat less of an interest in who ruled them.

The role of money in politics is a *really* tough question, even for a
flaming liberal such as myself. I find it hard to square laws that dictate
what people can spend their money broadcasting with freedom of speech.
Furthermore, particularly with the Internet, the information on every
political candidate is in fact out there; if people want to know, they can
find out. Buying a commercial doesn't give anyone the final say on what
people think about a given candidate. I'd put the blame for American
political apathy elsewhere. I suspect that the majority of American voters
simply don't see a direct connection between who gets elected president
and events in their lives in the proceeding for years. Most Americans are
comfortably middle class and will remain fairly comfortable and
middle-class for the next decade or two no matter who gets elected. It is
indeed the economy, stupid, and Americans can't see a direct link between
their personal finances and politics. Whatever happens, most people aren't
likely to starve.

-Michael
Received on Sun May 18 2003 - 16:36:21 EDT

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