RE: [Discuss-sudbury-model] Rightwing SVS's?/American values

From: Hector Ortega <>
Date: Mon Apr 5 17:01:01 2004


> I think that it is interesting that the founders of
> SVS attempted to
> portray the school as living out traditional,
> American political values,
> which are usually seen to be associated with
> "conservatives".

I think this is what you're talking about:

The Crisis in American Education: An Analysis and A
Proposal, by The Sudbury Valley School

CHAPTER 2 -- The American Dream

    There are three root ideas underlying the ethical,
political, and social structure of the United States.
Each of these three, taken alone, has a long history
in other cultures, and occasionally two of them have
appeared together. America has been unique, until
recently, in combining all three into that particular
mix that gives our country its special character.
    These three ideas serve as guiding principles for
the nation as a whole. They are, in a sense,
over-arching ideals towards which we strive. There is
no denying that the American people have, at different
times of their history, and at different places on
their far-flung continent, fallen short of converting
these ideas into practical reality; but the ideas
nevertheless remain, clear and sharp, as our basic
underpinning, and our failures to live by them have
always filled us with guilt. ...


The problem is interpreting what the traditional
American values are, and what that looks like in
practice. In my opinion 'conservatives' (especially
republicans, but even current U.S.
libertarians/paleoconservatives) don't reflect truly
traditional, American political values in some very
fundamental ways. You can read about that in my
message Rightwing SVS's/free state project that I
posted a couple days ago. But basically, the
socioeconomic system that developed in the industrial
revolution, and especially as it exists today, is not
what the classical libertarians (including Adam Smith,
the co-called father of capitalism) were proposing.
The notion of liberty they were proposing did not
include the 'freedom' TO exploit or to have authority
over others, but the (real) freedom FROM exploitation
and from authority. The freedom to have authority
over others is what capitalism allows, through the
tyranny of private enterprises... private in this case
meaning an enterprise controlled by a few (the owners,
bosses, managers). Since the most prevalent form of
authority against white males that existed at the time
of the Enlightment was that of the state, they
emphasized a reduction of state authority. But with
the rise of private tyranny of capitalism, where the
majority of the people, the workers, had to submit to
the powerful few, these classical libertarians
condemned this socioeconomic system.

"Freedom, not License" ! (to quote A.S. Neill)

You might think, well, if we shouldn't have private
enterprises then what? Socialism, communism? Well,
sure, socialism but not the psedo-socialism of the
so-called communist countries of the 20th century.
That system was actually a form of state capitalism
pretending to be socialist. It was a form of
capitalism in which all the enterprises belonged to
the state. There was one employer, the state. It was
actually ONE huge private enterprise, where the state
was the boss/bosses. So no need for private
enterprises, again if by 'private' we mean few bosses
and mostly powerless workers not capable of making
decisions, etc. In real socialism we would have
enterprises that are(truly) free, or (let's use the
word) 'independent' (independent from the state, if
there is a state at all), where all the workers of an
enterprise have equal authority.

Now, are SVS's more like our current private
enterprises or like the 'independent' enterprises
advocated by socialism?

You might want to check out:

By the way, notice that Francis Bellamy, the author of
the Pledge of Allegiance was a socialist, President of
the Christian Socialists... "with liberty, and justice
for all", not only for the capitalist bosses!

"Freedom, not License" !

Like the fundamentalist conservatives who have
misinterpreted or distorted the intentions of the
founding fathers, by claiming that this country was
founded on the Christian religion, the current U.S.
libertarians have misinterpreted or distorted the
intentions and the notion of 'liberty' of the
classical libertarians.

To quote the paragraph above again,

"There is no denying that the American people have, at
different times of their history, and at different
places on their far-flung continent, fallen short of
converting these ideas [or values] into practical

So if historically we have fallen short of the promise
of liberty (freedom from authority), we can see that
in many ways we are much closer to the ideals, but
still we need to open our eyes and realize where the
authority lies in our time. We are often blind to our
own culture's and generation's faults and
deficiencies, and we believe that if we have to
tolerate lack of freedom and democracy, for instance
in our jobs, it's because that's just the way it is.
As advocates of the SVS, we should be able to
understand this much more readily.

Now, you might understand why the New Left (including
libertarian socialists) is more afraid of private
authority... because in a democratic republic, the
state authority at least can be influenced, depending
on how democratic the republic really is. If more
power is given to private authority and less to state
authority (state intervention/assitance) then the
population becomes less powerful and less free, so a
relatively large government is not as threatening if
it's highly democratic. But if the government is
huge and it's not democratic but totalitarian, that
will spell 'oppression', even if the constitution
guarantees certain rights (the right to education,
health care, etc.) as in the Soviet Union.

I once read in one of the free texts from the SVS web
site that some people are appalled by the number of
rules there are. But since the school is democratic,
is the large number of regulations threatening? Of
course not! I suppose that some of rules have to do
with protecting the liberty of SVS community members.
Like say, you have to clean up after yourself, so that
you're not taking advantage of the other members and
take away their time. (Question: At SVS are the rules
about freedom to learn and study what you like, etc.
spelled out too, or are those implicit?) In the same
way those sympathetic to the libertarian left see in
our current society a need for state intervention in
implementing regulations which protect individuals
from oppression, exploitation, etc., like
minimum-wage, strong unions, etc. but prefers to stay
away from people's business when comes to matters of
personal choice (drug use, prayer in schools, gay
marriage, etc.), that's where the libertarian right
overlaps with the libertarian left.

> thought that it would sweep the nation once people
> realized how clearly
> the school embodied truly American values and
> practices!

Well, that just goes to show that Americans are still
not convinced by values of the Enlightment, including
those advocated by the classical libertarians.

"There is no denying that the American people have, at
different times of their history, and at different
places on their far-flung continent, fallen short of
converting these ideas into practical reality"

It seems to me that not only are we still falling
short 'of converting these ideas into practical
reality', but we're still falling short of
understanding and accepting these ideals.

:) hector

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Received on Mon Apr 05 2004 - 17:00:04 EDT

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