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The War Against The Imagination: How To Teach In A System Designed To Fail


The following is an excerpt from a much longer essay by Robert Guffey. The entire essay can be viewed at I encourage everyone to read it. – Shorty Dawkins, Associate Editor

Antony Sutton a former economics professor at California State University, Los Angeles:
“A tragic failure of American education in this century has been a failure to teach children how to read and write and how to express themselves in a literary form.  For the educational system this may not be too distressing.  As we shall see later, their prime purpose is not to teach subject matter but to condition children to live as socially integrated citizen units in an organic society—a real life enactment of the Hegelian absolute State.  In this State the individual finds freedom only in obedience to the State, consequently the function of education is to prepare the individual citizen unit for smooth entry into the organic whole.

However, it is puzzling that the educational system allowed reading to deteriorate so markedly.  It could be that [they want] the citizen components of the organic State to be little more than automated order takers; after all a citizen who cannot read and write is not going to challenge The Order […].  This author spent five years teaching at a State University in the early 1960s and was appalled by the general inability to write coherent English, yet gratified that some students had not only evaded the system, acquired vocabulary and writing skills, but these exceptions had the most skepticism about The Establishment.”

This is no coincidence.  Any child or adult whose consciousness has been forged by media imagery, who has no experience with literacy whatsoever, will inevitably begin to mimic the cliches of popular entertainment.  Their vision of the world and the people in it will be filtered through the Seurat-like pointillist dots of a television screen.  Their goals will be based on a corporate-owned nightmare manufactured in a Hollywood studio or an office on Madison Avenue or a think tank in Washington, D.C.

In light of the increasing amount of darkly surreal political scandals emerging from the White House these days (i.e., “Benghazi-gate,” “AP-gate,” “IRS-gate”), one can’t help but wonder if the real reason Those In Power wish to eradicate fiction from American education is to make the next generation of voters unfamiliar with the very concept of fiction itself, thus rendering the citizenry incapable of recognizing pure fiction when it appears on the nightly news or—more specifically—when it comes pouring out of the mouth of a duplicitous President on a regular basis.  Distinguishing between lies and truth requires the skill to think independently, a skill best reinforced by the imagination itself, the ability to consider possibilities.

One day many years ago, back when I was in middle school, my Civics teacher became ill all of a sudden.  A substitute teacher came to take his place.  I think he was in his early to mid-twenties.  He was a handsome blond gentleman, fairly athletic looking.  He didn’t seem like your normal kind of teacher at all.  He ignored the instructions our regular teacher had left for him and instead launched into a monologue that went something like this:  “Everything you know is a lie.  Everything you’ve been taught is a lie.  History?  It’s just a pack of fairy tales.  Hey, you, kid!”  He pointed at a popular boy sitting in the front row.  “Who’s George Washington?”

The boy laughed nervously, sensing a trick question in the air.  “Uh… well, uh, the first President of America?”

“Wrong.  The first President of the United States was a man named John Hanson.  So what’s George Washington most famous for?  What’d he do?”

“Uh… he… well, he chopped down a cherry tree, right?”

“Yeah?  And then what he’d do?”

The kid couldn’t answer, so somebody else jumped in:  “He told his mom about it, ‘cause he couldn’t tell a lie!”

The substitute replied, “Bullshit, man!  Just more bullshit, never happened!  None of this ever [word deleted by editor] happened!”

An uncomfortable silence fell upon the room.  The most disruptive class clowns weren’t even making funny noises with their armpits.  Nobody knew what to do.  Abruptly, everybody had been teleported to an alternate dimension where everything seemed a lot more uncertain—and a lot more serious—than ever before.

He suggested to us that if we wanted to understand “true” history, we should read a novel entitled Illuminatus!, a three-volume work of psychedelic fabulism by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson.  Needless to say, we never saw that particular teacher again.  I shouldn’t have been surprised.

Nor should I have been surprised when I discovered, ten years later, while doing research among the stacks of the CSU Long Beach library, that John Hanson was “elected President of the United States in Congress Assembled on November 5, 1781, the first of seven such one-year termed presidents,” whereas George Washington wasn’t elected President until 1789.  My source for that little-known factoid is an obscure 1978 book entitled The Illuminoids.  Is it possible that that weird substitute had read the same book?  Maybe he’d even read the same exact copy!  I wish I could ask him.  I often wonder if he’s still in the teaching biz.  Somehow I doubt it.

Read the entire essay here.