C.S. Lewis

In C.S. Lewis’ satirical expose on the American education system, entitled “Screwtape Proposes a Toast,” Lewis knocks us about the head in an effort to understand that democracies destroy freedom and inventiveness. For those unfamiliar with his classic work, “The Screwtape Letters”, they are a collection of letters from one head devil by the name of Screwtape, to his nephew Wormwood, an apprentice devil trying to tempt individuals into the path of sin. Lewis returns to the setting of a group of devils in this essay where Screwtape now proposes a toast and waxes on about how wonderful it is that the humans are doing their job for them by dumbing down the populace and creating class envy. Below is a clip from this work, but if you wish to read the essay in its entirety (which I highly encourage), you may do so by following this link.

Read the following as if it is being spoken by a head devil at a party celebrating the fact that things are going really well for the lot of other devils to the point that humans have taken up doing their work themselves.

“In that promising land [America] the spirit of I’m as good as you has already begun something more than a generally social influence. It begins to work itself into their educational system. How far its operations there have gone at the present moment, I should not like to say with certainty. Nor does it matter. Once you have grasped the tendency, you can easily predict its future developments; especially as we ourselves will play our part in the developing. The basic principle of the new education is to be that dunces and idlers must not be made to feel inferior to intelligent and industrious pupils. That would be “undemocratic.” These differences between pupils – for they are obviously and nakedly individual differences – must be disguised. This can be done at various levels. At universities, examinations must be framed so that nearly all the students get good marks. Entrance examinations must be framed so that all, or nearly all, citizens can go to universities, whether they have any power (or wish) to profit by higher education or not. At schools, the children who are too stupid or lazy to learn languages and mathematics and elementary science can be set to doing things that children used to do in their spare time. Let, them, for example, make mud pies and call it modelling. But all the time there must be no faintest hint that they are inferior to the children who are at work. Whatever nonsense they are engaged in must have – I believe the English already use the phrase – “parity of esteem.” An even more drastic scheme is not possible. Children who are fit to proceed to a higher class may be artificially kept back, because the others would get a trauma — Beelzebub, what a useful word! – by being left behind. The bright pupil thus remains democratically fettered to his own age group throughout his school career, and a boy who would be capable of tackling Aeschylus or Dante sits listening to his coeval’s attempts to spell out A CAT SAT ON A MAT.

In a word, we may reasonably hope for the virtual abolition of education when I’m as good as you has fully had its way. All incentives to learn and all penalties for not learning will be prevented; who are they to overtop their fellows? And anyway the teachers – or should I say, nurses? – will be far too busy reassuring the dunces and patting them on the back to waste any time on real teaching. We shall no longer have to plan and toil to spread imperturbable conceit and incurable ignorance among men. The little vermin themselves will do it for us.

Of course, this would not follow unless all education became state education. But it will. That is part of the same movement. Penal taxes, designed for that purpose, are liquidating the Middle Class, the class who were prepared to save and spend and make sacrifices in order to have their children privately educated. The removal of this class, besides linking up with the abolition of education, is, fortunately, an inevitable effect of the spirit that says I’m as good as you. This was, after all, the social group which gave to the humans the overwhelming majority of their scientists, physicians, philosophers, theologians, poets, artists, composers, architects, jurists, and administrators. If ever there were a bunch of stalks that needed their tops knocked off, it was surely they. As an English politician remarked not long ago, “A democracy does not want great men.”

Click this link to continue with the last reading which is a chapter from the book “The 5,000 Year Leap” by Cleon Skousen. This chapter explains the difference between a Republic and Democracy and why “Democracy” today is just a sanitized or politically correct version of socialism.

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