Wednesday, August 26, 2009


There is a really great article
in the new issue (print only, unless you subscribe) of Harper's Magazine by Mark Slouka that elucidates how the education system in America has bowed to Big Business to such an extent that we are now producing a generation of future employees instead of citizens. Consider the language affected by such institutions: "Preparing America's Youth to Compete in the Global Marketplace," etc, etc. Private colleges, especially, seem to be first mechanisms for making money, second institutions for higher learning.

Or, as Slouka points out, institutions committed to a certain kind of higher learning--namely math and science at the expense of the humanities. After all, scientists and mathematicians are of great use to the capitalists, whereas people schooled in the humanities, in literature and history and art, are potential threats to such orthodoxy. As Slouka writes, "Real debate can be short-circuited through orthodoxy, and whether that orthodoxy is enforced through the barrel of a gun or backed by the power of unexamined assumption, the result is the same." The unexamined assumption, of course, is that there is only one system of value that holds any merit, one that puts economic concerns ahead of all else.

Slouka continues, "In our time, orthodoxy is economic. Popular culture fetishizes it, our entertainments salaam to it (how many millions for sinking that putt, for accepting that trade?), our artists are ranked and revered by it. There is no institution wholly apart. Everything submits; everything must, sooner or later, pay fealty to the market; thus cost-benefit analyses on raising children, on cancer medications, on clean water, on the survival of species, including--in the last, last analysis--our own. If humankind has suffered under a more impoverishing delusion, I am not aware of it."

1 comment:

  1. This isn't exactly on point, but I was reminded of it.
    "Today's culture has ceased to stand for the values that many people continue to believe in."
    - Christopher Lasch 1994