Hayek on Math and Totalitarian Control

I was sent an email this morning by someone reading FA Hayek’s book, “The Road to Serfdom” and she shared this bit knowing my interest in math education.

“Totalitarian control of opinion extends, however, also to subjects which at first seem to have no political significance…In particular, they [totalitarians] all seem to have in common an intense dislike of the more abstract forms of thought – a dislike characteristically also shown by many of the collectivists among our [England’s] scientists. Whether the theory of relativity is represented as a ‘Semitic attack on the foundation of Christian and Nordic physics’ or opposed because it is ‘in conflict with dialectical materialism and Marxist dogma’ comes very much to the same thing. Nor does it make much difference whether certain theorems of mathematical statistics are attacked because they ‘form part of the class struggle on the ideological frontier and are a product of the historical role of mathematics as a servant of the bourgeoisie,’ or whether the whole subject is condemned because ‘it provides no guaranty that it will serve the interest of the people.’ It seems that pure mathematics is no less a victim and that even the holding of particular views about the nature of continuity can be ascribed to ‘bourgeois prejudices.’ According to the [Fabian] Webbs, the Journal for Marxist-Leninist Natural Sciences has the following slogans: ‘We stand for Party in Mathematics. We stand for the purity of Marxist-Leninist theory in surgery.’…It is entirely in keeping with the whole spirit of totalitarianism that it condemns any human activity done for its own sake and without ulterior purpose. Science for science’s sake, art for art’s sake, are equally abhorrent to the Nazis, our socialist intellectuals, and the communists. Every activity must derive its justification from a conscious social purpose…” p. 177

Now compare that with what Alpine School District had posted on their Mission Statement web page just a few months ago before taking it down from the controversy it created.

“According to Webster’s Dictionary, democracy is defined as a government by the people in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections. Our current government is best symbolized as a representative democracy.

The primary purpose of education is developing democratic citizens.

This preparation is not a matter of chance nor is it a matter of giving our pupils a few lessons in civics or teaching them about the Constitution.

It requires the development of a democratic character: fostering the growth of traits such as responsible conduct, critical reflection, compassion and integrity.

Thus, the task of readying the young for democratic life is the business of all educators.

Along with our social studies and history teachers, others must incorporate this objective into their curriculum.

Math teachers must help students gain a respect for inductive proof and certainty in argumentation.

The music teachers could help students gain a sense of responsibility to the group and playing in harmony with other citizens. Our English teachers should teach the responsibilities of expression and choice.

Of course, our administrators ought to help students understand that a democratic society cannot survive without respect for rules, law, and order.

Every teacher should have this major board objective in mind as he/she prepares the curriculum.

Parents, too, ought to incorporate these objectives into their family’s environment.

An interesting parallel… Progressives want control of every aspect of our lives and want everyone to participate in it.

8 Responses to “Hayek on Math and Totalitarian Control”

  • Lewis B:

    I’m not sure how teaching kids to be patriotic, participatory U.S. citizens goes against the abstract. Christ also instructed us to be compassionate, the LDS church teaches us to pull together and support one another. Are these socialist ideals as well? Would you prefer anarchy where everyone exists just for him/herself? Of course dictators discourage thought. Dictators are paranoid and are worried about maintaining control and power. A gathering of people is a threat, literature, music, and art are threats because of the messages they may contain. In fact, dictators like to get rid of all intellectuals because anyone who thinks is a threat.

    I find it laughable that you have now put another new twist on the ASD motto that makes it appear that there is an even deeper conspiracy to teach students to not think for themselves. If anything, how do we know that you are not attempting to do the same thing once you finally get control of ASD? Will teachers be afraid to even ask students to fill out a chart analyzing the pros and cons of different forms of governments for fear of being labeled anti-Republic. You need to tread lightly here, Oak.

    Your comparisons with math and the ASD motto are weak and tenuous, and I find them very unconvincing.

  • Lewis, have I ever posted something that has convinced you of anything? :)

    If you read closer above, I say it’s “an interesting parallel,” not “ASD has been conspiring to get our children to not think.”

    Goodlad’s message though is enculturate into a democracy in every subject which ASD has probably just ignorantly bought into, though I’m no longer certain it’s ignorant when 2 of 30 national Goodlad appointed scholars are in ASD’s administration. 2 more are at BYU’s McKay School of Education. That means Utah, with less than 1% of the national population, has 13% of the Goodlad AED Scholars (Agenda for Education in a Democracy).

    As for control, ask Tim Osborn how much control I’ve ever tried to leverage on him. Zero. Tim’s a good man that understands the math and constitution issues. I helped walk streets to get him elected and since being elected, I have never once asked him about any issue in the district that he would have to vote on or try to tell him how to vote. There’s been a few votes I haven’t been excited about, but I’m not interested in control. I’m interested in a quality and truthful education for tens of thousands of children.

  • Lewis B:

    I believe Tim is a good man but I don’t think he understands Constitution issues if he thinks the same way as you do. Heck, you are still operating under an 18th century definition of democracy.

  • Lewis, it’s not my definition. I really wish you would dig into Goodlad, Dewey, Ayers, and other “educators” and see what THEY define democracy as. It’s socialism. That’s their goal. They do it through teaching democracy and that everyone’s voice needs to count on everything. Their humanist agenda demands the public determine truth because they refuse to accept the notion that God exists. There is an agenda by these national folks. Look up Charlotte Iserbyt who worked in the Dept. of Education and you can download her book “The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America” where she took documents and information right from the DOE that exposed this socialist movement in the education system. (www.deliberatedumbingdown.com)

  • Lewis B:

    I do know what they define democracy as; you don’t have to convince me of that. What you have failed to convince me of is whether or not the ASD school board defines democracy in the same manner as Goodlad and Dewey. I have read Goodlad and he doesn’t come out and give a straight up definition of Democracy. By reading between the lines, and looking at their associations with others, speeches, comments, etc, I would agree that Goodlad and Dewey look at our democratic institutions as something that can be exploited to further an agenda of socialism. Of course, all groups exploit our system of government. That is the nature of living in a free country. The Ethics Petition drive in Utah is a good example of citizens using democracy to hamstring the power of the legislature (even though I do believe the state government is corrupt) or the Prop 8 vote in California where the majority of citizens used democracy to target a minority group of people (according to our founders, a reason why we have our Constitution is to protect minorities from majorities). So, I do agree with you Oak that pure Democracy in the hands of citizens is a bad thing as evidenced through the Ethics petition and the Prop 8 vote, however; I believe the ASD school board was naive and didn’t understand what they were reading. They thought they were safe because it came from BYU and how can you go wrong when something comes from BYU–a lighthouse of conservatism? I think you were too quick to judge the ASD school board and I don’t believe they had a hidden agenda or were doing anything nefarious. If you think about, the ASD school board is no different than a charter school board in that schools are being run by simple house wives, dads, and other community members trying to serve and do their best. You put them into a difficult spot, and they have no way out without egg on their faces. I think that you made your point and that they understand, but just give it some time. BYU has dropped Goodlad and ASD will follow suit, if they can just quietly do it. If they can’t quietly do it because you won’t let them, then ASD is going to fight and resist to the bitter end. The ball is in your court, Oak. Isn’t it time you called a truce and offered an olive branch instead of a sword? Things might happen more quickly if you do the Christian thing and love your fellow man rather than despise them.

    For all of our differences, I don’t hate you, Oak. I sometimes think that in your zeal to do the right thing, you go off track and become misguided, over-analytical, and lose sight of the original problem. Ponder over the truth of my words, Oak.

  • Lewis, it’s not just the school board and their definition of democracy. They aren’t in the classrooms teaching our children. When a school in Orem passed out Goodlad books to all the teachers and then mailed them to legislators as well last year, the tone from the district encourages teachers to partake of Goodlad. The district admin promotes Dewey as well. Their approval of these people endorses everything they teach because nobody says “hey, they’ve got some radical socialist views too that you need to watch out for.”

    BYU’s MSE is no lighthouse of conservatism Lewis. They haven’t dropped Goodlad, they openly stated their great love for Goodlad and said they were only dropping the NNER for financial reasons. They still have full buy-in to his philosophies. I don’t despise them, I feel sorry for them. They have gone through a lifelong indoctrination themselves through the national education programs which are nearly completely corrupt. The DOE is a socialist indoctrination center. Read Charlotte Iserbyt’s expose “The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America.” It’s free online.

    As for my zeal, I can honestly say I appreciate your tone here Lewis. We may not agree and you may not believe this, but my zeal is on my mind quite a bit. I try to analyze carefully and set things aside for a bit to make sure I don’t get a different view that changes my perspective. However, the things I *actually* write, I do believe to be true.

  • Lewis B:

    I’m not sure what you think about the No Child Left Behind law, but I think it is the greatest threat to education in America. What do you think about the law that was passed with such strong bi-partisan support?

  • I don’t know if I’d classify it as the “greatest threat” but it’s up there. We agree on that.