'The Militant' joins liberals

Stuart Lawrence stuartwl at walrus.com
Tue Dec 24 01:23:11 MST 2002

A very belated follow-up to this thread on vouchers:

----- Original Message -----
From: "Jose G. Perez" <jgperez at netzero.net>
To: <marxism at lists.panix.com>
Sent: Tuesday, July 09, 2002 1:44 PM
Subject: Re: 'The Militant' joins liberals


I believe the working class response to vouchers should be to return to
programmatic position as expressed in the Critique of the Gotha program,
which is to demand the state pay for the education of children but NOT that
the state run the schools. What you get when you ask the American
bourgeoisie to run your kid's school is precisely what we have now, which, I
think, is convincing evidence that Marx was right.



Jose might have cited this as evidence that John Stuart Mill was right,
because on this issue, the programmatic position of that icon of
19th-century liberalism was much like Marx's.

"If the government would make up its mind to require for every child a good
education, it might save itself the trouble of providing one. It might leave
to parents to obtain the education where and how they pleased, and content
itself with helping to pay the school fees of the poorer classes of
children, and defraying the entire school expenses of those who have no one
else to pay for them. The objections which are urged with reason against
State education, do not apply to the enforcement of education by the State,
but to the State's taking upon itself to direct that education: which is a
totally different thing. That the whole or any large part of the education
of the people should be in State hands, I go as far as any one in
deprecating. All that has been said of the importance of individuality of
character, and diversity in opinions and modes of conduct, involves, as of
the same unspeakable importance, diversity of education. A general State
education is a mere contrivance for moulding people to be exactly like one
another: and as the mould in which it casts them is that which pleases the
predominant power in the government, whether this be a monarch, a
priesthood, an aristocracy, or the majority of the existing generation, in
proportion as it is efficient and successful, it establishes a despotism
over the mind, leading by natural tendency to one over the body. An
education established and controlled by the State should only exist, if it
exist at all, as one among many competing experiments, carried on for the
purpose of example and stimulus, to keep the others up to a certain standard
of excellence. Unless, indeed, when society in general is in so backward a
state that it could not or would not provide for itself any proper
institutions of education, unless the government undertook the task: then,
indeed, the government may, as the less of two great evils, take upon itself
the business of schools and universities, as it may that of joint stock
companies, when private enterprise, in a shape fitted for undertaking great
works of industry, does not exist in the country. But in general, if the
country contains a sufficient number of persons qualified to provide
education under government auspices, the same persons would be able and
willing to give an equally good education on the voluntary principle, under
the assurance of remuneration afforded by a law rendering education
compulsory, combined with State aid to those unable to defray the expense."

J.S. Mill, "On Liberty"

"'Elementary education by the state' is altogether objectionable. Defining
by a general law the expenditures on the elementary schools, the
qualifications of the teaching staff, the branches of instruction, etc.,
and, as is done in the United States, supervising the fulfillment of these
legal specifications by state inspectors, is a very different thing from
appointing the state as the educator of the people! Government and church
should rather be equally excluded from any influence on the school.
Particularly, indeed, in the Prusso-German Empire (and one should not take
refuge in the rotten subterfuge that one is speaking of a 'state of the
future'; we have seen how matters stand in this respect) the state has need,
on the contrary, of a very stern education by the people.

"But the whole program, for all its democratic clang, is tainted through and
through by the Lassallean sect's servile belief in the state, or, what is no
better, by a democratic belief in miracles; or rather it is a compromise
between these two kinds of belief in miracles, both equally remote from

Marx, "Critique of the Gotha Program"


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