One of the simple truths about mankind is found in this quote by Adam Smith, taken from his seminal work that defined capitalism, the Wealth of Nations:
The natural effort of every individual to better his own condition, when suffered to exert itself with freedom and security is so powerful a principle that it is alone, and without any assistance, not only capable of carrying on the society to wealth and prosperity, but of surmounting a hundred impertinent obstructions with which the folly of human laws too often incumbers its operations; though the effect of these obstructions is always more or less either to encroach upon its freedom, or to diminish its security.
The complete title of the book published in 1776 is “An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations”.
The kind of independent/individual motive force that Smith speaks about is being bred out of every successive generation through leftist control of the news media, the art and culture establishments and the institutions of learning.
What a shame that the “natural effort of every individual to better his own condition” is now considered to be “selfish” and the belief that somehow it is impossible for the individual to achieve success in today’s society is being reinforced by government, schools and universities that are steeped in the teaching of Marx.
Smith also offered his insight on institutions of higher learning of his age that rings true today. He said that the universities had become “the sanctuaries in which exploded systems and obsolete prejudices found shelter and protection after they had been hunted out of every other corner of the world.”
Even in Smith’s time, universities were becoming havens of prescriptive thought where free thinking was discouraged in favor of rigid adherence to dogma. Much like our educational systems today, these universities were at once relegated to indoctrination, not education.
With the advent of the recent federal mandate called the Common Core State Standards in English, it just got easier for the indoctrination process to be executed.
Paul Mirengoff at Powerline notes:
Controversy is brewing over new Common Core State Standards in English that call on public schools to emphasize the reading of “information text” instead of fictional literature. According to the Washington Post, English teachers across the country are upset by what they consider the government’s effort “to drive literature out of the classroom.”
English teachers are right to be upset, but they shouldn’t take it personally. The government has nothing much against literature, per se. Rather, this initiative is driven in large part by the desire to promote political propaganda in the classroom. The study of literature is being downgraded in the process, but for a good cause.
Consider that one of the “informational texts” recommended as a replacement for, say, Great Expectations is “Executive Order 13423: Strengthening Federal Environmental, Energy, and Transportation Management.” Students would thus study government propaganda in English class (this Executive Order was issued under President Bush, but it is still propaganda — a political sop to the environmental left, as Stanley Kurtz shows).
Another Common Core’s non-fiction exemplar is an excerpt from a 2009 New Yorker essay by Atul Gawande on health care. This too is propaganda – an effort to show that Obamacare is wise policy.
This brings something right out into the open that the political left has been doing for decades - and gives it the public sanction to continue – that being the teaching of students what to think rather than teaching them how to think. If the academic community allows this, it will be the final validation that they have given up preparing students for an independent future where they can progress as far as their abilities will take them and has doomed them to become interchangeable cogs in mechanism of the new Leviathan.