Skip to comments.The Clinton Mystique - The Corruption of Critical Thinking
Posted on 08/12/2002 3:33:26 PM PDT by vannrox
Gerald L. Rowles, Ph.D.
We have often attributed a broad range of societal ills to the misguided tyranny of the educational system. I don't believe that to be hyperbolic, but I think that it is easy to overlook the tyranny of the "socialization system" that is governed by other such elite institutions as (American Psychological Association) APA-accredited training programs and their offspring - psychology licensing agencies.
An example: People stand in awe of the Clinton mystique, that a man such as Bill Clinton is such a persuasive communicator, when he has clearly been shown to be a liar and that his words are ultimately meaningless when it comes to translating them into action.
This, I submit, is indicative of the systematized corruption of critical thinking skills.
There are two reasons why this corruption has occurred.
First, the most obvious and very damaging failure of the education system to teach children the fundamental language skills. At base, the development of traditional logic and critical thinking flows from understanding the structure of language. C is to kuh; A is to ah; R is to ar = CAR. From there, advanced language skills evolve through learning the essentials of sentence structure, with an emphasis on how meaning is changed by the proper or improper placement of words and their modifiers. These are the mechanics, the tools of logical and meaningful expression. It has become increasingly clear that "whole language" instruction has bypassed these essentials.
Second, the less obvious but more insidious failure comes from the "socialization system" that has mandated or advocated an untested school of child-rearing. One of the most recognized, and least tested, is the Benjamin Spock school of child-rearing. Following WWII, this school of "expert" thought has encouraged a whole generation of parents to intellectualize their relationship with their children; to "reason" with their children in order to create a more "democratic" family structure that ostensibly enhances the child's self-esteem - which is alleged to have been damaged by the traditional patriarchal structure. Nevertheless, rates of teen depression, drug and alcohol use, and violence have escalated in these ostensibly "democratized" children.
The unackowledged problem is this. As William James, the father of pragmatism, said, the child's mind is a blooming, buzzing confusion filled with unarticulated sensory input. For a parent to try to "reason" with a 3-7 year-old, most of whom lack any but the most basic language skills, is futile.
Blindly submissive to a social "expert", a substantial measure of a generation of parents has done so, feeling that they were on the cutting edge of evolved parenting. For the child though, the actual effect is only greater confusion. A young child, faced with a "reasoning" parent, hears only a seemingly endless collection of words that has no connectedness in their world. So, their option is to select out those words that they grasp, while attending to the parental intonation. Does the intonation indicate parental favor or disfavor? The child then proceeds on the basis of this patchwork of disjointed words and tonality. The whole connection between words-actions-consequences - the fundamentals of critical thinking - is diminished in the process. Ultimately, the child is functioning in an ill-defined, guesswork universe that lacks clear boundaries and objectives - But, just keep talking.
This child-as-adult is ultimately the perfect foil for the Bill Clintons of the world - a person who regresses them to that earlier time of disjointed, emotive words that recreate the misguided, "intellectualized" environment of the parental home. For them, this is "reason"as they know it - because key words have been implanted in a "feel good" or "feel bad" tonality. This child has lost the Jamesian ability to form a semblance of "true" belief where, in the long run, a true belief must work beneficially, while an untrue belief will work destructively. Truth for this child is a moving target - and as long as the talking continues, no matter how unreasoned - the child's objective, no matter how self-destructive, remains attainable; they are in the position of power over parental authority that has eschewed the word "no" in favor of a paragraph that may or may not be consequential.
St Thomas Aquinas stated: "the good of man is to be in accordance with reason," and evil is "to be against reason." First, however, one has to understand "reason". By school time, however, the "intellectualized" child, is reason-deprived by the very parents that sought to raise them in a "reasoned", "democratic" environment. And no matter how well he or she ultimately learns the mechanics of language from the educational system, those tools will fail to provide them with critical thinking skills, which first require a fundamental understanding of a words-action-consequences pragmatism. One of the most powerful, pragmatic lessons a child can learn as to the importance of words is that which is taught under the benevolent dictatorship of the traditional home - when they are compelled to bend their will to "reason", as advanced by the traditional psychologist John Rosemond: The reason? "Because I said so"! - No more talking.
This is the powerful failure of the contemporary "socialization system", and the elite training programs and licensing boards that are statutorily empowered to still those voices that might advance "reason"able alternatives to the corrupt PC ideology.
In what turns out to be a strikingly contemporary observation on the value of reason to judge good or ill, St. Thomas Aquinas spoke thus: "The conjugal act and adultery, as compared to reason, differ specifically and have effects specifically different; because the one deserves praise and reward, the other, blame and punishment. But as compared to the generative power, they do not differ in species; and thus they have one specific effect. ... For an action is said to be evil in its species, not because it has no object (effect) at all; but because it has an object (effect) in disaccord with reason, for instance, to appropriate another's property, (spouse, reputation, etc.)."
BUT, for the reason-impaired, the effect remains ill-defined, as long as you just keep talking.
The Twentieth Century was truly the age of the demagogue. And while they used all of the above with a vengeance, they also employed a lot of other concepts all pushing in the same direction--to break down traditional analytic thought processes, and sweep a bemused public along with such ideas as these:
1. Everyone is basically equal. Where they do not achieve equally, it is in some way or another Society's--or the dominant elements in Society's--fault. And the remedy is not to analyze the roots of the failure but to demand collective action.
2. Just as failure to learn or achieve is never the fault of the individual, neither is most anti-social behavior (from childhood on). Thus there is a sort of moral equivalence, which totally ignores traditional understanding of virtue, and undermines its pursuit in every way imaginable.
3. In a similar vein to 1 and 2, any apparent difference in the sexes--or even the acceptance of the concept of clearly defined sex roles (the chief motivation for much of what other generations considered virtuous)--are social evils which must be corrected.
This type of thinking is never sold by rational arguments. Rather the susceptible are intimidated from even questioning it, much less seriously analyzing it, by hysterical attacks. "Racist," "sexist," etc., are the ready answers of the proponents; and as incredible as it seems to anyone who will quietly analyze the evidence for the Left's proclamed truths, this technique of hysterical intimidation has worked just as well in America and Britain, as an earlier variety of the same technique worked for Hitler in Nazi Germany. (Different hurled insults, but hysteria instead of argument, none-the-less.)
William Flax Return Of The Gods Web Site
Clinton's appeal is and was simple: I will take from others and give goodies to YOU; I screw anything that moves, so putting me in the WH validates YOUR screwing anything that moves; I will protect and promote killing babies anytime, anywhere, by any method, for any reason, so you can be even more secure and validated in screwing anything that moves. That's Clintonism in a nutshell. It has appeal to millions of people not because of their lack of language skills, but because they are thieves and fornicators.
He makes a crucial (and telling) mistake by starting his essay with equating sounds to the letters of the alphabet. It's true that whole language reading is a fraud but learning to read is secondary to learning to think.
We, unfortunately, can be taught to think wrong.
Rational thinking is increasingly attacked as simply a European (read American) fiction. The fallacy of whole language reading is merely a further effort to cripple young minds that might fall prey to it.
If they can't read or write what harm (or good) can be done?
It isn't true for all people, of course. It does appear to be true for most people most of the time.
The Left knows this and uses this knowledge very effectively. Conservatives still refuse to learn that politics consists, in large part, of psychological warfare.
We are improving. Horowitz has done us all a great service by making us aware of the rules of political warfare and the methods by which battles can be won.