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.
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.