Sunday, September 29, 2013


The show ["The Cradle Will Rock"] was scheduled to open June 17th, 1937, at the Maxine Elliott Theatre on Broadway, with an elaborate set and a twenty-eight-piece orchestra. But at the last minute, Washington, bowing to complaints, announced that no new shows would be funded until after the beginning of the new fiscal year. The Maxine Elliott Theatre was surrounded by WPA security guards on June 14, since, the government argued, props and costumes inside were government property. Welles, Houseman, and Blitzstein rented the Venice Theatre and a piano. They met the audience outside the shuttered theater and marched the audience and the cast twenty blocks to the Venice. The procession invited onlookers to join them, and by 9 p.m., the Venice's 1,742 seats were filled. Actor's Equity had forbidden the cast to perform the piece "onstage." Blitzstein, who sat alone at the piano, was prepared to play and perform all the roles. Olive Stanton, a little-known relief actress who depended on her small WPA check to support her mother and herself, stood up from her seat when Blitzstein began and sang her opening number. It was an act of singular courage. The rest of the cast, scattered throughout the audience, stood and took over their parts. The poet Archibald MacLeish, who attended, thought it was one of the most moving theatrical experiences of his life. [John] Houseman [Professor Kingsfield in "The Paper Chase"] was promptly fired by the project and Welles quit. The two men would go on to found the Mercury Theater.

--Chris Hedges, "Death Of The Liberal Class", p. 91, 92


That's thunder, that's lightning,
And it's going to surround you.
No wonder those stormbirds
Seem to circle around you.
Well, you can't climb down, and you can't sit still....
That's a storm that's going to last until
The final wind blows.......and when the wind blows....
The cradle will rock!

That's thunder, that's lighting,
And it's going to surround you.
No wonder those stormbirds
Seem to circle around you.
Well, you can't climb down, and you can't say "No"
You can't stop the weather, not with all your dough
For when the wind blows.....O when the wind blows.....
The cradle will rock!

--"The Cradle Will Rock" by Narc Blitzstein, 1936

Saturday, September 28, 2013


Makin' a speech and passin' out leaflets.
The fawmal charge is Incitin' to Riot.
Ain't you ever seen my act?
Well, I'm creepin' along in the dark.
My eyes is crafty, my pockets is bulgin'.
I'm loaded, armed to the teeth..with leaflets.
And am I quick on the draw!
I come up to you....very slow......very snaky......
And with one fell gesture......
I tuck a leaflet in your hand.
And then, one two\three.....
There's a riot.   You're the riot.
I incited you,     I'm terrific I am

--"The Cradle Will Rock" by Narc Blitzstein, 1936

Friday, September 27, 2013

Wise II

Workpeople just drop,
Right at their workin' they drop.
Wear, weary, tired to the core;
If one of them drops out of sight there's always plenty more.
Workpeople all know
That somebody's got them in tow….
Yet what is the good
For a few to complain?
But if everyone would,
That's something else again!
One big question inside me cries;
How many frameups, how many shakedowns,
Lockouts, sellouts,
How many times machine guns tell the same old story,
Brother, does it take to make you wise?

--"The Cradle Will Rock" by Narc Blitzstein, 1936

Thursday, September 26, 2013


A story? Is that what your papers want, a story?
Listen, here's a story.
Not much fun, and not much glory,
The thing you never care to see,
Until there is a showdown.
Here it.....I'll make it snappy;
Are you ready?  Everybody happy?

Workpeople get gypped;
For no good reason, just gypped.
From the start until the finish comes...
They feed 'em out of garbage cans,
They breed 'em in the slums,
Workpeople will go,
And stand outside stores they know.
They'll look at the meat,
They'll look at the bread,
And too little to eat sort of goes to the head,
One big question inside me cries;
How many fakers, peace under-takers,
Paid strike-breakers,
How many toiling, ailing, dying, piled up bodies,
Brother, does it take to make you wise?

--"The Cradle Will Rock" by Narc Blitzstein, 1936

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


Just you call the News.
And we'll print all the news,
From coast to coast, and from border to border.

Yes, but some news - can be made to order,

O the press, the press, the freedom of the press.
They'll never take away the freedom of the press,
We must be free to say whatever's on our chest -
With a hey-diddle-dee and a ho-nonny-no
For whichever side will pay the best.

--"The Cradle Will Rock" by Narc Blitzstein, 1936

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


"But what is wrong with frivolity, art-world insider games, or with bewildering art objects being displayed in a museum? Nothing is wrong with these things, of course, unless they are piled up as in a blockade to make passage of any useful images or ideas very difficult. What disheartens me when I enter the contemporary wing of the Museum of Modern Art, although it could be any contemporary wing, anywhere, since there is now only one message, which is that a once-vital avenue of human connection is clogged with things that rebuke the notion of connection. I watch people wandering through these vast rooms looking somewhat glazed, half asleep—many of them, no doubt, suspecting that they are not clever enough or sufficiently educated to receive the blessing of high art. It saddens me that they came to experience art in good faith, believing that through it they might become uplifted, sensitized to life, as they would be if they had stayed home and read a good contemporary novel. Museum-goers are being deceived about the breadth of contemporary art and what it could offer them.
--Alan Magee, artist
Quoted in "Death Of The Liberal Class" by Chris Hedges, p. 118

Sunday, September 22, 2013


"When the corporate media chooses to ignore serious political art, it marginalizes it.  Millions of people who might see, read, hear that art, don't.  Their questions, ideas, feelings are not then validated by witnessing them portrayed accurately in art.  Art tells many people its OK to think and feel unpopular things. Without that assurance, people are often isolated with their own perception of reality and will retreat to official conformity and the comfort of patriotism, even when it betrays the ideals it is meant to support"
--Rob Shetterly, painter
Quoted in "Death Of The Liberal Class" by Chris Hedges, p. 119


As societies become more complex they inevitably become more precarious and vulnerable. As they begin to break down, the terrified and confused population withdraws from reality, unable to acknowledge their fragility and impending collapse. The elites retreat into isolated compounds, whether at Versailles, the Forbidden City, or modern palatial estates. They indulge in unchecked hedonism, the accumulation of wealth, and extravagant consumption. The suffering masses are repressed with greater and greater ferocity. Resources are depleted until they are exhausted. And then the hollowed-out edifice collapses. The Roman and Sumerian empires fell this way. The Mayan elite, became, at the end, as the anthropologist Ronald Wright notes in A Short History of Progress, "...extremists, or ultraconservatives, squeezing the last drops of profit from nature and humanity." This is how all civilizations, including our own, ossify and collapse
--Chris Hedges & Joe Sacco, "Days Of Destruction, Days Of Revolt", p. 149-150

Saturday, September 21, 2013


"Highly centralized mass production economies can't function well without colonizing individual minds and converting them into a mass mind. The conversion works best if started early, in the lower grades of elementary school, in kindergarten and pre-kindergarten. The function of these collective rituals we call school has very little to do with intellectual development - consider only the familiar madness of teaching the colors and days of the week or months of the year to little people who come to school already knowing those things. The collective rituals of lower grades are about habit training, about practicing attention and fealty to authority. In this way, independent consciousness can be undermined in its formative stages."
--John Taylor Gatto, "Weapons Of Mass Instruction", p. 43

Thursday, September 19, 2013


In the industrial state which emerged rampant in the wake of the Civil War, the entrepreneurial egalitarianism of the original American design was put to death by factories and licensing laws, government interventions and requirements, and eventually by forced schooling. By 1880, factories and financiers ruled the American roost, and a professional proletariat of academics, lawyers, politicians, and others dependent on the favor of the mighty were making it hot for Americans who fought to maintain a libertarian nation as promised by the Declaration and the Bill of Rights. With this radical transformation from local democracy to de facto oligarchy, people with minds of their own became an impediment to efficient management. Think of it this way: lives assigned to routine work are best kept childish.
--John Taylor Gatto, "Weapons Of Mass Instruction", p. 41


[I]n the new fashion, different goals were promulgated, goals for which self-reliance, ingenuity, courage, competence, and other frontier virtues became liabilities (because they threatened the authority of management). Under the new system, the goals of good moral values, good citizenship skills, and good personal development were exchanged for a novel fourth purpose - becoming a human resource to be spent by businessmen and politicians. By the end of the nineteenth century, school was looked at by insiders as a branch of industry. In those more innocent times, the creators of schooling were remarkably candid about what they were up to, a candor which shines through a speech delivered in 1909 by Woodrow Wilson to an audience of business men in New York City...:

"We want one class to have a liberal education. We want another class, a very much larger class of necessity, to forgo the privilege of a liberal education and fit themselves to perform specific difficult manual tasks."

--John Taylor Gatto, "Weapons Of Mass Instruction", p. 23

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


"School is also an efficient way of ensuring loyalty to certain ideas and attitudes; its potential employees can be pre-screened for possession of these, or at the very least for a willingness to conform to them. School is also a tax-absorption mechanism which can claim to be draining resources from the body politic for the good of the next generation, while actually routing a goodly portion of these revenues to friends of the house."
--John Taylor Gatto, "Weapons Of Mass Instruction", p. 22


"Any political management, even tyranny, must provide enough work for ordinary people that revolutionary conditions don't emerge. Forced schooling provides a spectacular jobs project, one almost infinitely elastic, one expanding and contracting with employment needs. It should be no secret to you that institutional schooling, with all its outriggers, is the principal employer in the United States. And such a formidable granter of contracts that even the Defense Department (a similar jobs project) can't keep up."
--John Taylor Gatto, "Weapons Of Mass Instruction", p. 22

Monday, September 16, 2013


"Almost at once, even before compulsion had claimed every American state, a process of consolidation began, intended to curb localism. By arranging for larger and larger bureaucratic units, only those with funds enough and reputation to campaign at large beyond the neighborhood could be elected. These mergers were sold as efficiency measures to save taxpayers money, but an oddity occurred - as the districts were enlarged, costs went up, not down, and continued upward in subsequent years. With local watchdogs gone, tendencies to use mass schooling as a cash cow were exploited by every special interest group with political friends."
--John Taylor Gatto, "Weapons Of Mass Instruction", p. 19

Sunday, September 15, 2013


The new forced schooling octopus taught anyone unable to escape its tentacles that inert knowledge - memorizing the dots - is the gold standard of intellectual achievement. Not connecting those dots. It set out to create a reflexive obedience to official directions as opposed to accepting responsibility for one's own learning.

These habit trainings are among the most important weapons of mass instruction. On the higher levels of the school pyramid, among those labeled "gifted" and "talented;' the standard is more sophisticated: there children are required to memorize both dots as well as what experts say is the correct way to connect those dots into narratives: even to memorize several conflicting expert analyses in a simulation of genuine critical thinking. Original thinking in dot connection is patronized at times, but always subtly discouraged. Twelve to twenty years of stupefying memorization drills weakens the hardiest intellects.

--John Taylor Gatto, "Weapons Of Mass Instruction", p. 16, 17

Saturday, September 14, 2013


"Again I say that each and every Negro, during the last 300 years, possesses from that heritage a greater burden of hate for America than they themselves know, Perhaps it is well that Negroes try to be as unintellectual as possible, for if they ever started really thinking about what happened to them they’d go wild. And perhaps that is the secret of whites who want to believe that Negroes have no memory; for if they thought that Negroes remembered they would start out to shoot them all in sheer self-defense."
--Richard Wright, "Journals, 1945 - 1947"

Friday, September 13, 2013


Not long ago, Apple boasted that its products were made in America. Today, few are. Almost all of the 70 million iPhones, 30 million iPads and 59 million other products Apple sold last year were manufactured overseas.

Why can’t that work come home? Mr. Obama asked.

Mr. Jobs’s reply was unambiguous. "Those jobs aren’t coming back," he said, according to another dinner guest.

--"How the U.S. Lost Out on iPhone Work" by Charles Duhigg and Keith Bradsher, New York Times, January 21, 2012

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Something IV

"You go to fight to make it [freedom] mean something," Solly Two Kings says in August Wilson’s play Gem of the Ocean. "All it mean is you got a long row to hoe and ain’t got no plow. Ain’t got no seed. Ain’t got no mule. What good is freedom if you can’t do nothing with it?"
--Quoted in Chris Hedges & Joe Sacco, "Days Of Destruction, Days Of Revolt", p. 64

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


"Violence begets violence.  It is as old as the Bible.  The violence of the state--brute force, internal colonies from which the poor can rarely escape, and massive incarceration-- is countered with the street violence of the enraged.  These internal colonies funnel the dispossessed into prisons and out again in a circular system that ensures they never escape from the visible and invisible walls that hem them in like sheep.  Brutalized on the street, sometimes brutalized at home and brutalized in prison, they strike out with a self-destructive fury.  Since most lack education and a huge proportion are branded by the state as convicted felons, there is no place for them to go other than where they came from."
--Chris Hedges & Joe Sacco, "Days Of Destruction, Days Of Revolt", p. 64

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


"Those who come out the other end of the hell that can be Pine Ridge almost always endure by turning away from white culture and reviving the traditions and religion the white invaders attempted to destroy".
--Chris Hedges & Joe Sacco, "Days Of Destruction, Days Of Revolt", p. 8

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Traditional II

"The Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 was the last blow to the traditional leadership structure. It replaced traditional tribal elders with elected tribal governments that were easily controlled and manipulated by the federal authorities. This form of colonialism--one perfected by the British, French, and much earlier, by the Roman Empire--permitted the colonialist to rule behind a local, indigenous hierarchy, obscuring the real beneficiaries of colonialism. These collaborators sought to instill the rules and beliefs of the oppressor’s culture."
--Chris Hedges & Joe Sacco, "Days Of Destruction, Days Of Revolt", p. 39


The [Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian] skims over some four hundred treaties Washington signed and then violated as it appropriated three billion acres of Indian land. And there is no mention of the series of brutal government massacres of unarmed women, children, and the elderly, including the December 1890 slaughter at Wounded Knee, near Wounded Knee Creek, South Dakota. The museum fails to explain that by 1889 the buffalo population of North America had been reduced to one thousand from more than fifty million in 1830, wiping out the primary food source for the western Indian tribes and reducing them to beggars. And it ignores the heroic resistance of Indian leaders such as Sitting Bull, Geronimo, and Crazy Horse.
--Chris Hedges & Joe Sacco, "Days Of Destruction, Days Of Revolt", p. 13

Saturday, September 07, 2013


The [Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian] makes no mention of the genocide, starvation, burning of Indian villages, rape, or forced death marches such as the 1838 Trail of Tears, which resulted in the death of most of the Cherokee population. Vague euphemisms gloss over the suffering of Native Americans on government reservations and in Indian boarding schools. A video on the third floor equates Indian ‘suffering,’ which is never specified, with a storm or natural disaster:

"The storm is powerful and unceasing. It creates and destroys. It offers life and death, hope and despair. It is never simply one thing. The storm is an opportunity. The storm teaches. We have learned much".

--Chris Hedges & Joe Sacco, "Days Of Destruction, Days Of Revolt", p. 12, 13

Thursday, September 05, 2013


Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations called for "educational schooling" to correct the human damage caused by mindless working environments, but Andrew Carnegie, writing 126 years after Smith, in The Empire of Business disagreed. Educational schooling, said Carnegie, gave working people bad attitudes, it taught what was useless, it imbued the future workforce with "false ideas" that gave it "a distaste for practical life:'
 --John Taylor Gatto, "Weapons Of Mass Instruction", p. 15

Wednesday, September 04, 2013


In April 1872, the US Bureau of Education's Circular of Information left nothing to the imagination when it discussed something it called "the problem of educational schooling:' According to the Bureau, by inculcating accurate knowledge workers would "perceive and calculate their grievances;' making them "redoubtable foes" in labor struggles! Best not have that.
--John Taylor Gatto, "Weapons Of Mass Instruction", p. 15

Function II

Self-alienation as a secret success formula for a mass production industrial/commercial economy (and the class-driven social order which complements it) isn't as wrong as first impressions make it sound. Consider that such a social order can't produce very much satisfying work - the kind where personal sovereignty is exercised. As this social order matures, so many dissatisfied people are its byproduct that daily life is rocked by instability. But if you can be persuaded to blame yourself rather than a group of villains for your miserable lot, the dangerous gas goes out of the social balloon.

When you flip hamburgers, sit at a computer all day, unpack and shelve merchandise from China year after year, you manage the tedium better if you have a shallow inner life, one you can escape through booze, drugs, sex, media, or other low level addictive behaviors. Easier to keep sane if your inner life is shallow. School, thought Harris the great American schoolman, should prepare ordinary men and women for lifetimes of alienation. Can you say he wasn't fully rational?

John Taylor Gatto, "Weapons Of Mass Instruction", p. 14

Tuesday, September 03, 2013


Ninety-nine [students] out of a hundred are automata, careful to walk in prescribed paths, careful to follow the prescribed custom. This is not an accident but the result of substantial education, which, scientifically defined, is the subsumption of the individual...

The great purpose of school can be realized better in dark, airless, ugly places.... It is to master the physical self, to transcend the beauty of nature. School should develop the power to withdraw from the external world.

--"The Philosophy of Education" (1906) by William Torrey Harris, U.S. Commissioner of Education from 1889 to 1906

Quoted in "Weapons Of Mass Instruction" by John Taylor Gatto, p. 11

Sunday, September 01, 2013


In our dreams...people yield themselves with perfect docility to our molding hands. The present educational conventions [intellectual and character education] fade from our minds, and unhampered by tradition we work our own good will upon a grateful and responsive folk. We shall not try to make these people or any of their children into philosophers or men of learning or men of science. We have not to raise up from among them authors, educators, poets or men of letters. We shall not search for embryo great artists, painters, musicians, nor lawyers, doctors, preachers, politicians, statesmen, of whom we have ample supply. The task we set before ourselves is very simple...we will organize children...and teach them to do in a perfect way the things their fathers and mothers are doing in an imperfect way.
--Rockefeller General Education Board, "Occasional Letter Number One" (1906),
Quoted in "Weapons Of Mass Instruction" by John Taylor Gatto, p. 8


[Alexander] Inglis [in his 1918 book, "Principles Of Secondary Education"] breaks down the purpose - the actual purpose - of modem schooling into six basic functions, any one of which is enough to curl the hair of those innocent enough to believe the three traditional goals listed earlier:

1) The adjustive or adaptive function. Schools are to establish fixed habits of reaction to authority. This, of course, precludes critical judgment completely. It also pretty much destroys the idea that useful or interesting material should be taught, because you can't test for reflexive obedience until you know whether you can make kids learn, and do, foolish and boring things.

2) The integrating function. This might well be called "the conformity function," because its intention is to make children as alike as possible. People who conform are predictable, and this is of great use to those who wish to harness and manipulate a large labor force.

3) The diagnostic and directive function. School is meant to determine each student's proper social role. This is done by logging evidence mathematically and anecdotally on cumulative records. As in "your permanent record." Yes, you do have one.

4) The differentiating function. Once their social role has been "diagnosed," children are to be sorted by role and trained only so far as their destination in the social machine merits - and not one step further. So much for making kids their personal best.

5) The selective function. This refers not to human choice at all but to Darwin's theory of natural selection as applied to what he called "the favored races." In short, the idea is to help things along by consciously attempting to improve the breeding stock. Schools are meant to tag the unfit - with poor grades, remedial placement, and other punishments - clearly enough that their peers will accept them as inferior and effectively bar them from the reproductive sweepstakes. That's what all those little humiliations from first grade onward were intended to do: wash the dirt down the drain.

6) The propaedeutic function. The societal system implied by these rules will require an elite group of caretakers. To that end, a small fraction of the kids will quietly be taught how to manage this continuing project, how to watch over and control a population deliberately dumbed down and declawed in order that government might proceed unchallenged and corporations might never want for obedient labor.

--John Taylor Gatto, "Weapons Of Mass Instruction", Prologue, p. xviii, xix