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The Answering of Kautski

July 1, 2012

The Answering of Kautski

by Richard Mitchell

The Underground Grammarian

November, 1979

Why should we bother to reply to Kautski? He would reply to us, and we would have to reply to his reply. There’s no end to that. It will be quite enough for us to announce that Kautski is a traitor to the working class, and everyone will understand everything.

-Nikolai Lenin

TYRANNY is always and everywhere the same, while freedom is always various. The well and truly enslaved are dependable; we know what they will say and think and do. The free are quirky. Tyrannies may be overt and violent or covert and insidious, but they all require the same thing, a subject population in which the power of the word is dulled and, thus, the power of thought occluded and the power of deed brought low. That’s why Lenin’s bolshevism and American educationism have so much in common.

“Give me four years to teach the children,” said Lenin, “and the seed I have sown will never be uprooted.” He wasn’t talking about reading, writing, and arithmetic. He wanted only enough of such skills so that the workers could puzzle out their quotas and so that a housebroken bureaucracy could get on with the business of rural electrification. Our educationists call it basic minimum competency, and they hope that we’ll settle for it as soon as they can cook up some way of convincing us that they can provide it. For Lenin, as for our educationists, to “teach the children” is to “adjust” them into some ideology.

Lenin understood the power of that ready refuge from logical thought that is called in our schools the “affective domain,” the amiable Never-never Land of the half-baked, to whom anything they name “humanistic” is permitted, and of whom skillful scholarship and large knowledge are not required. Lenin approved of the “teaching” of values and the display, with appropriate captions, of socially acceptable “role models.” He knew all too well the worth of behavior modification. He knew that indoctrination in “citizenship” is safer than the study of history, and that a familiarity with literature is not conducive to the wholehearted pursuit of career objectives in the real-life situation, or arena.

On the other hand, Lenin knew that there was little risk that coherent thought could erupt in minds besieged by endless prattle about the clarification of values. He knew that reiterated slogans can dull even a good mind into a stupor out of which it will never arise to overthrow the slogan-makers. In this, our educationists have followed him assiduously, justifying every new crime against freedom of language and thought by mouthing empty slogans about “quality education.”

“Most of the people,” Lenin wrote, not in public, of course, but in a letter, “just aren’t capable of thinking. The best they can do is learn the words.” If that reminds you of those bleating sheep in Animal Farm, try to forget them, and think instead of the lowing herds of pitiable teacher-trainees, many of whom began with good intentions and even with brains, singing for their certificates dull dirges of interpersonal interaction outcomes enhancement and of change-agent skills developed in time-action line. Lenin’s contempt was reserved for the masses. These educationists, pretenders to egalitarianism, hold even their own students in contempt, offering them nothing but words.

If you think it too rash to charge our educationists even as unwitting agents of tyranny and thought control, consider these lines from a recent proclamation of the Association of California School Administrators:

“Parent choice” proceeds from the belief that the purpose of education is to provide individual students with an education. In fact, educating the individual is but a means to the true end of education, which is to create a viable social order to which individuals contribute and by which they are sustained. “Family choice” is, therefore, basically selfish and anti-social in that it focuses on the “wants” of a single family rather than the “needs” of society.

So what do you think? Would it suit Lenin?

And if you’d like to object, you’ll see that these people also know how to answer Kautski. They’ll just pronounce you an elitist, and everybody will understand everything.

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