Archive for the ‘AMERICAN SOCIAL DARWINISM’ Tag

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: CELEBRATING ONLY THE EXCEPTIONAL IN SPORTS? WHERE THAT ATTITUDE TAKES US   Leave a comment

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY RORY GILFILLAN IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAILRory Gilfillan’s words are quite unpleasant and more than a little confused.

First, if you take his basic principle of only celebrating the outstanding, it seems to me that you must logically extend it to all areas of activity.

In schools, in the arts, and in the sciences. And that necessarily implies authorities picking and choosing who should pursue what. In the U.S. they do this with floods of money and privilege, and in China they do this with state authority.

That general attitude results in America, a true social Darwinist society.

Second, while everyone likes being astonished by the fabulously gifted, there are many small pleasures in enjoying the efforts of the less gifted.

Third, I just do not regard sports in general as all that important. For those that do enjoy them, fine, but for society to use many precious resources only to groom and praise those with talented bodies gives you the sense of contemporary China towards sports, a sense not completely different to that which prevailed under the Third Reich.

Yes, it is nice to see gold medals, but really when the Olympics or any other big event is over, two weeks later the beer-fed emotion is forgotten and a hell of a lot of money has been spent on very little of substance. It still all reduces to a modern version of Rome’s “bread and circuses.”

People like Mr. Gilfillan would have us believe there is more to it, but truly there isn’t.

Perhaps almost better the many celebrations of small victories than the big blow-out for a few physically talented people.

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: OBAMA AND THE GRIM SHADOW OF AMERICA’S TORTURE PRISONS – AND THE BRUTAL FACT ONLY DREAMERS AND FOOLS BELIEVE IN CHANGE IN AMERICA   Leave a comment

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY JOHANN HARI IN THE INDEPENDENT

 

Yes, absolutely, the secret prisons in Afghanistan, and those in other places, cast a grim shadow across Obama’s smiling face.

I believe that decisions like keeping America’s torture gulag operating abroad are the greatest source of people’s disappointment with Obama.

But I’m afraid people were being unrealistic to expect much else.

America is an empire, not a dreamy “shining city on a hill,” but a rather brutal society which feels entitled to run the affairs of others in all parts of the planet.

It does this through a combination of its immense economic and military might.

America’s own population lives under a version of Social Darwinism, as relatively few people abroad fully appreciate. There is relatively little sympathy or patience for the concerns of foreigners, a simple but brutal fact.

The American establishment – the intelligence industry, the Pentagon, the defense contractors, and the huge multi-national corporations – do quite literally form a government within a government.

That is not a left-wing fantasy or a slightly paranoid delusion – after all, it was a Republican president and former general, Eisenhower, who first sounded the warning. It is the ineluctable result of this stupendously wealthy and largely unaccountable set of institutions.

A great many dark and devious men hold high positions in this establishment, and they have billions at their disposal plus a general population which is passive in accepting their actions.

Think only of the pointless holocaust in Vietnam. Countless billions wasted, an estimated 3 million Vietnamese murdered in an orgy of killing, and a devaluation of the dollar afterwards to help pay the bill. All of it done for nothing more than the fears and prejudices of that establishment.

The last American President who truly challenged that establishment died on November 22, 1963.

Obama wants to be the elementary civics-class textbook version of a president, the kind of president which the establishment tolerates from either party, not end up being either driven from office in shame or worse.

To talk with genuine expectations about change of any real consequence today in America is utterly naïve. It’s just about as meaningful as talking about change in the France of the late eighteenth century with its dukes and cardinals and princes, whose carriages simply thumped over the bodies of peasants who happened to be in their way.

Yes, a revolution did happen then, but try that in an empire with a military establishment pushing two million, all armed with unbelievably powerful weapons and a set of at least fourteen intelligence services which spy on every phone call and e-mail and even check the books you read at the library.

The French Revolution will never be repeated, and the pathetic American libertarians who naively believe that holding on to their beloved rifles and pistols secures their freedom surely only bring a quiet chuckle from those who know better.

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: ON THE ISSUE OF MERIT PAY FOR TEACHERS   Leave a comment

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY ERIN ANDERSSEN IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

True merit pay for teachers must cut both ways.

The better teachers should get more than average while the poorer teachers should get less than average.

That is the only intellectually defensible way to do this.

Of course, the truly poor ones – of which there are many – should be let go.

How much chance is there that the teacher’s union – at its heart the cause of most of our educational woes – would support that? None.

As for only paying bonuses, that really is a bribery system. Because the education system is so much larger and complex in the US, it is only natural that bribes would come into being.

After all, American states and cities outbid each other in concessions to keep or receive industries.

In a large American metropolis, typically there are many school boards, ranging from immensely well-financed ones in breathtakingly wealthy suburbs to piteously financed ones in some urban centers (truly rural schools in the US are often terribly poor too).

In a place like Chicago area, there are suburbs with PhDs teaching high school and with facilities comparable to a private quality college. Then there are science labs in some Chicago neighborhoods where the Bunsen burners do not work.

Paying these bribes is just one more mechanism for the well-off to assure themselves all the very best. Poor boards are not able to compete.

It’s just one more form of Social Darwinism in a country which specializes in such arrangements.

Another argument against this idea is a strong one too. The fact is, in Ontario, we have no in authority competent to judge the quality of teachers. Principals are afraid, often rather limp-wristed, and they are just teachers themselves who in many cases sought a way out of the classroom.

Once a graduate lands a permanent job in Ontario, his or her teaching is never examined or assessed. There are no specialist teams competent to do this anyway, as there once were.

Going right up the Ontario hierarchy, we have pretty much nothing but ex-teachers who’ve escaped the classroom. That’s how we get superintendents and even directors with little capacity for management or sound judgment.