Here is a perfect example of the kind of mentality we are dealing with. This is a quotation from Donald Rumsfeld justifying war in Iraq:
Donald Rumsfeld famously argued with regard to the WMD question in Iraq, “The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.”
How many times does it have to be said? How much more clearly can it be articulated? But, I’ll say it once again, this centuries-old accumulated wisdom: The greatest human problem -- the most destructive and most powerful force in the human experiential universe -- is greed, with fear running a close second!It is fear that is most often exploited by demagogues claiming to speak for the voiceless masses expressing their fears, their anger, and without fail, their prejudices against perceived “enemies” such as all those immigrants “stealing” their good jobs. It would no doubt be sold as “America First.”
in 1938, a New York Times reporter warned: “When and if fascism comes to America it will not be labeled ‘made in Germany’; it will not be marked with a swastika; it will not even be called fascism; it will be called, of course, ‘Americanism.’” No mention will be made, of course, that those stolen good jobs were actually shipped to countries where wages are low and benefits non-existent. No discussion will ensue about how all of this belies the fact that a once-believed-in social contract has been dismantled and effectively destroyed. The so-called American Dream has fast become the American Nightmare.
What exactly is a Social Contract and how does a society acquire one? All societies including totalitarian states have a social contract both explicit and implicit, written and unwritten, enforced and unenforced. Social contracts cover anything and everything from attire, to diet, to religious practice, to driving on a particular side of the road. In some societies, the origins of their contract provisions are lost in time, having evolved without record, but are manifest in the present.
The social standing of women, castes, races, ethnicities, regional inhabitants are all aspects of social contracts as they occur around the world and within nations. Some are decided by vote others by imposition and carried on by secular or religious tradition or custom. The actors assemble under a variety of banners from Marxism to neoliberalism and always with the same objectives: to limit personal freedom and to delimit individual behavior, thus defining a contract.
I have been studying the Social Contract for more 30 years out of an interest that evolved from my teaching a course at the University of Wisconsin-Madison titled “Schools and Society.” The motivating question at that time was: Why do societies put so much effort and treasure into teaching the young from kindergarten through university and college? And now, why today, has the United States, a country that has had an enviable system of public education since its founding, why now attack public education from all quarters?
I recently saw a Gallup poll that found that more than half of those surveyed were dissatisfied with public schools.
(To be continued.)