Lord Acton’s famous line about the relationship of power and corruption needs no more than its first phrase. The two are conjoined twins. Under the right circumstances all of us are likely to succumb to the corrosive effect of authority. Some occupations have it as part of their job descriptions.
While corruption is ineluctably part of all human intercourse, it is most florid in education and politics which have shared the same bed for centuries, though their dark embrace has been been most florid over the past half century.
The source of this corruption is no more than opportunity. If you have power or authority over the actions of others you will increasingly use it to your own advantage and to the detriment of those on whom it is imposed. Even if your intentions are good, though good intentions are difficult to separate from malign, corruption will creep in like mold in a damp basement.
Education is rotten from root to topmost leaf. Mark Twain’s quip:”God made stupidity. That was for practice. Then he made school boards,” resonates even more today than it did a century and a half ago. The recent San Francisco Bay Area school board caught on an open mic dissing the parents of the children whose education they supervise is doubtless repeated daily by countless school boards whose main purpose seems to be sabotage. That we are at an unusually deranged period in our history only amplifies the harm that corrupted school boards (I’m redundant on purpose) can do.
Ask why school boards are even necessary. Society has generally agreed that K-12 education should be provided to all children at government – ie, taxpayers – expense. Fine. but why should the government own and operate the schools in addition to paying their bills? Upon even superficial reflection you’ll conclude that there really is no need for public schools. The government could issue vouchers to everyone with children which could be used at a school of the parents’ choice. This arrangement would minimize or eliminate the corruption suffused through public education by the teachers unions who predictably represent the interests of their members irrespective of those of their students. That these unions contribute large sums to the politicians who ostensibly employ them, further ensures that education will suffer and the wellbeing of our future leaders and workers will be degraded.
That there are well intentioned members of school boards and teachers in no way mitigates the damage caused an inherently corrupt system. It can not be reformed, only replaced. The situation further worsens when higher education is considered. Public universities are governed by boards appointed by state leaders – typically the governor. Who is the governor likely to appoint to such a board? The disinterested expert in the complexity of the educational process or a large contributor to his election committee? The question answers itself.
Assuming the governing board wants its university to thrive, getting more government money is synonymous with thriving, it will appoint as its CEO a person who has government connections that will allow the flow of money from the appropriate legislature to the university’s exchequer. Experience in teaching and research is incidental and not required.
The situation for a private university is analogous, if not an exact copy. Government connections and the ability to tap both public and private sources of money are the essential credentials for the job. The CEOs of public and private universities have to manage a portfolio of demands which is essentially devoid of educational content. Clark Kerr’s statement of his job description when he was head of the University of California System has only worsened since he uttered it – “To provide sex for the students, sports for the alumni, and parking for the faculty.”
Below the governance level, the university in the mid 20th century functioned reasonably well despite Kerr’s wisecrack. But beginning about 50 years ago the educational edifice began to crack under the assault of a faculty that had never known hardship or adversity and thus was prone to addled thinking. Leisure in excess corrupts as thoroughly as power. There is a species of the highly educated that is attracted to the concept of the perfect as is a bee to nectar. The more books without symbols or equations read by a hyperreflexive intellectual of this persuasion, the more certain he is of salvation’s secret. Such knowledge must be shared with the passion of a first generation believer in a new religion; a divine vision that promises more than the world must be disseminated.
The United States was assembled by men who understood the fallen state of humanity. “If men were angels, no government would be necessary,” wrote James Madison. The rest of the argument is less often regarded. ” You must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place, oblige it to control itself.” The dominant belief at the faculty club is that a single truth has emerged, one that brooks no dissent and tolerates no deviance. The government certainly must control the governed, but it must do so without limit or obligation. The ruination of the classroom over several generations is the certain end of civil society.
A corrupt academy has loosed upon the continent an unruly horde that dominates popular culture, the media, and worst of all the government. License is spread across all three such that those who prefer the sentiments that founded the USA are despised by a self ordained elite as inferior, unclean, and irredeemable.
The urge to improve life is so easily converted to a thirst for power that far from the center being unable to hold, it seeks to control every facet of life and to refashion the chords of mystic memory to a cacophony of infinite rules and bizarre postures that are to be regularized like clay in a kiln. People are classified by external trifles that become ineluctable governors of their fate regardless of their traits, natures, and abilities. Corruption becomes the philosopher’s stone of a fantasy world. When the biology of gender so simple in its definition becomes the pitch of fierce dispute as to who is who and when when personal pronouns outnumber persons corruption and decay have wrought their masterpiece.
Nothing is real. The world must be that of a toddler incapable of maturation. Money is magic. Learned economists declare that it can be created in endless amounts without deleterious consequences. It’s being showered, no deluged, across the world like the locusts of Exodus. When the rules, restraints, and regulations of reality are declared invalid the result is obvious. Equally apparent is the resolution – collapse.
Human societies have repeatedly imploded. The concept is neither novel nor unprecedented. The fault is not in our emissions, it’s in ourselves. The climate change hysterics who proclaim an existential threat are themselves the instruments of its occasion.
The signs of worldwide disintegration are everywhere. The global overreaction to a serious epidemic, the failure of America’s most energy abundant state to supply energy to its residents, the international debt (both public and private) at levels incompatible with both fiscal sanity and survival, rampant reverse racism no different from any other form of the disease. The prospect of paper currency having less utility and value than toilet paper, the neglect and decay of infrastructure are all signs of imminent entropy.
Perhaps the biggest sign of breakup to come and impotent reason is the genie-like conjuration of information corporations of unprecedented bigness that are more powerful than virtually any government. They exercise veto power over any opinion that upsets them and excuse their brobdingnagian power by the claim that they’re private corporations doing business as they see fit immune from oversight. Can the electric company rescind your power if they disapprove of your Weltanschauung? Can a privately owned emporium refuse you service as long as you obey the law? These behemoths have become central to the exercise of the activities of daily life and should be no freer to deny service to a law abiding customer than a lunch counter.
Collapse does not have to be total like the Mycenaean debacle. It can be partial and unravel in stages over time. It can also be sudden. It’s also not inevitable. How can the relatively sane center protect itself from the lunacy of the left. That of the right has been so discredited that it serves as a combination totem and punching bag for the professoriate and their spawn and ilk.
While human beings can never be severed from corruption, there are ways to either minimize it or make its remedy easier. The degree of corruption in any system or activity is directly proportional to the distance between the decision maker and the ground on which his mandate is imposed. Laws written by armies of staffers and implemented by legions of rulemakers are ignorant and unconcerned about the effects that will grow from their sesquipedalian clauses like castor beans sprouting of a pile of dung.
A local governing board may be just as ignorant and unconcerned about the rules they impose, they may be bought and paid by rentseekers, but they can be diverted from their ill intended ways much more readily than an unknown bureaucrat enjoying the prospect of a defined benefit pension and a high salary ensconced in an unmarked office 2000 miles from the action of his casually made rule.
What is to be done other than to await the post apocalypse resolution phase when debris removal is all that is possible? Wachet Auf needs to be more than a cantata by Bach. Assuming that large segments of the populace are out of synch with their governing elites, they need to actively make their displeasure known. The models for such an exercise of revulsion are those of Gandhi and Martin Luther King. Time is short. Unchecked corruption is self replicating and eventually lethal if left unmodified. It can never be eliminated as it’s part of our DNA, but it can be modified.