The Dewey Factor (Part I)

Let’s take a break from purely political anaysis today. Instead, let’s look at one of the reasons we are where we are as a nation, and why some of our political problems exist. To do so, we need to recognize what has happened to our education system over the past 100+ years.

We have to start with John Dewey, who has earned the title “Father of Progressive Education.” That “progressive” label is almost always poison. What were Dewey’s contributions to our current ills?

First, Dewey was one of the principal architects of the 1933 Humanist Manifesto. What are some of the key planks in this Manifesto? Here are some samples:

First: Religious humanists regard the universe as self-existing and not created.

Second: Humanism believes that man is a part of nature and that he has emerged as the result of a continuous process.

Fourth: Humanism recognizes that man’s religious culture and civilization, as clearly depicted by anthropology and history, are the product of a gradual development due to his interaction with his natural environment and with his social heritage. The individual born into a particular culture is largely molded by that culture.

Fifth: Humanism asserts that the nature of the universe depicted by modern science makes unacceptable any supernatural or cosmic guarantees of human values.

Eighth: Religious Humanism considers the complete realization of human personality to be the end of man’s life and seeks its development and fulfillment in the here and now.

Tenth: It follows that there will be no uniquely religious emotions and attitudes of the kind hitherto associated with belief in the supernatural.

Fourteenth: The humanists are firmly convinced that existing acquisitive and profit-motivated society has shown itself to be inadequate and that a radical change in methods, controls, and motives must be established to the end that the equitable distribution of the means of life are possible. The goal of humanism is a free and universal society in which people voluntarily and intelligently co-operate for the common good. Humanists demand a shared life in a shared world.

Summary: the universe was not created, but just somehow existed; man is not a special creation of God but a mere result of a continuous process (translation: evolution); religion is a human construct, gradually developed over time; there is no such thing as the supernatural (i.e., nothing above nature); there is no life after death, so everything we do is for the here and now; capitalism is a source of evil, so we must switch to a socialist system.

These points form the foundation of Dewey’s worldview. No problem if he doesn’t influence others, but Dewey’s influence has been vast. More on that in a later posting.