John Stuart MillJohn Stuart Mill, (1806-1873) English philosopher and economist

John Stuart Mill Quote

“A general State education is a mere contrivance for moulding people to be exactly like one another; and as the mould in which it casts them is that which pleases the dominant power in the government, whether this be a monarch, an aristocracy, or a majority of the existing generation; in proportion as it is efficient and successful, it establishes a despotism over the mind, leading by a natural tendency to one over the body.”

John Stuart MillJohn Stuart Mill
~ John Stuart Mill

On Liberty

Ratings and Comments

Waffler, Smith, Arkansas

Why these famous writers are not more lucent and understandable is a mystery to me. In their use of terms like "state" and "totalitarian" they miss something it seems to me. What is the "state"? Have you ever seen one? How can something be "totalitarian" when human beings only live for 100 years? Do you see my drift, society, "states" are drifting evolving concepts. The "state" like the community is simply the consensus of opinion of its constitutents in a democracy or of whoever can grasp the reins of power until they die. The community or ruler can build up a body of policy and law that appears to have a life of its own but this policy and law can be changed, if not always easily. In any event to speak of "the state" or of a "totalitarian" as if they are all powerful and never ending is absurd. What these famous writers and thinkers fail to say is that thought and practice in the public market place and in education tend or trend towards the normative, This tendency towards "normal" is not intentionally evil or something that is planned or foisted on us. Individuals are free to do other than "normal" and to express views that are other than "normal" and will thereby actually influence what normal is. But to always imply that there is someone out there dictating all of this stuff is an error. The "state" or society like God will go on and on even though individuals will not. Now, that "the state" intends to mould all people to be just alike I deny, that sitting in any classroom at any age and listening to a single speaker and reading out of a common book tends to make the listeners united in their view of the subject discussed (by this speaker and this book) and thus mould them in relation to the subject I agree. That they may leave the classroom and seek other views I also agree. My experience in public school was that students coming from a wide spectrum of homes, cultural, ethnic, and religious backgrounds did not all agree on everything. I would suggest that a school started by a few parents or controlled by a small organization such as a church is much more narrow in its focus and totalitarian in its methods than the broad expansive entity we call society or "the state".

jim k, austin, tx

Waff old boy, I understand that Arkansas is a little behind in the education department, but I suspect that you mean "lucid" not "lucent". Juat another example of public school education.

Ken, Allyn, WA

Waffler is wondering why all of these brilliant men disagree with him. Hmmm...why is everyone else crazy, and I'm the only sane man in the world? Public education is doing the work of the Fascism of Mussolini, Hitler and every other totalitarian that has ever been. Construct and assemble the people to their liking so they can build the machine of the State, with the dictator pulling the switch of course. We are all just impersonal cogs in the machine (who can be replaced if necessary).

Anonymous, Reston, VA US

Pubilc education does not mold clones, parents produce clones by setting the value system of their children.

Guess Who
  • Reply
    Guess Who    5/21/08

    I partially agree with this statement except for one important factor which invalidates this statement in my opinion.That is the Free Will of all humans which pre-existed "the state".

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    RobertSRQ    5/21/08

    Waffler, your intention was admirable. When Stuart wrote this statement it may have had some validity but things change and this most definitely is one of them. Since the first days of communities gathering their resource for the first school house things have not changed one eyeota - what has changed is government and our selfish attitude and indifference towards public education. These teachers in the public school system do a great job and deserve much praise many can go into the private sectors but refuse and for very good reason for it is there that clones are made and the status quo enforced. I agree, our educational system needs reform but its not beacuse of the system it's because of government and corporate America who refuse to fund the system - look back at yesterdays quote from Rockefeller and its tells the story. By the way Jim, it's just not juat

    Waffler, Smith, Arkansas

    Jim both lucent and lucid are adjectives from the same route. I will agree with you that lucid would be the more normal construction. I chose lucent because it felt more exotic and creative, something not usually found in private schools. Hell would you be creative if the teacher was ready to hit you with a ruler. Ken what I was trying to say is that these guys wrote more like science fiction writers and they had cause to write against the rising dictatorship over the minds of men that was occurring in Russia and Germany. But as I tried to point out Lenin, Stalin and Hiler, and Mussolini are dead. The educational system is composed of hundreds of thousands of people, free people like you and I. Whence does this paranoia about "the state" come from. I suggest that literature has a life of its own, and these famous writers have created a fictive literature that is giving you right wing good old boys a feeding frenzy that has no basis in real facts about the educatinal system in these United States.

    E Archer, NYC

    Knowledge is power. To control knowledge is to wield massive power. The studies of mass psychology, public education, and telecommunications reveal astounding connections with each other. I am not among those that fear knowledge or fear the truth. And there are those who are in positions to 'teach' and are themselves good examples of moral and civic virtues -- these are the teachers that we remember, that mark us for the rest of our lives. And this has attracted great interest by those that wish to 'brand' us with their logos and jingles, and imprint a lifetime of desire and dependence for their products and services. The school is a battleground, and I dare say the do-gooders of this world aren't winning -- those that control the state are. I went 'all the way' in school, skipped a couple grades along the way, public, private, Catholic, Baptist, rich, poor, urban, rural, Jewish fraternity, I have a wide range of experience. I also used to lecture at schools to promote Peace between the former USSR and the USA -- 50 lectures one year across the East Cost, and I saw schools of all sorts in big cities and small. Yes, millions of children are sitting down right now in school, the memories of which will last a lifetime. But after age 25 a lot of this stuff doesn't hold up. It turns out that I have been institutionalized and conditioned to demand it. Schools seem to me to have become indoctrination camps which squander some of the best years in a person's life. But in school you can be groomed and fashioned as children are willing to do anything when forced to sit down for hours on end. I'm sorry but I have to agree with Mill -- learn an honorable trade or two, travel the world, read constantly, meet the woman of your dreams, have a family, yada yada. Frankly I am happy to still have my children around me at this age. They have been in schools and are now home schooled (because we want them to learn something that applies to their here and now). But I digress -- schools are good for sports, the cafeteria, the halls, the 'events' where the more the people the better. But if I really want to learn something, I've got to get away from all that and focus, and study independently or with a coach/tutor/mentor. If I were in school today, I might be forced to take drugs for my 'disorder'. I could hardly wait to grow up and get out of there -- surprised was I that society had been arranged for obedient workers that tithe and pay tribute to the state every time a penny changes hands. No, my education did not prepare me for a free and responsible life, no, no, it prepared me for my permanent debt, my permanent obedience, my permanent indentured servant status. No, that would have been politically incorrect for any of my classes. My education never ceases -- I must put my assertions to the test over and over again as I realize I can be easily duped and the society not only promotes it but enforces it. The search for truth and the willingness to understand it is still for me the driving force of my life.

    Ken, Allyn, WA

    Interesting, Archer. I sometimes wonder why the failure rate of students is so high and why even when they do graduate, they seem to have not mastered the basics, much less the ability to analyze and apply logic and reason to a set of facts. Through some peripheral experience with a teenage niece, I have come to believe that children are not as stupid as some think they are. They know when they are being fed propaganda rather than being taught, and they decide to simply opt out of the education system altogether. There might be some old fashioned teenage rebellion involved, but even so, if I had to choose between accepting PC propaganda and nothing, I would probably choose nothing as well.

    warren, olathe

    Don't forget Stalin Ken

    jim k, Austin, Tx

    Nice try Waff. In my Oxford dictionary I looked up "lucent: and the editor seemed to have missed that one. It ain't in there

    E Archer, NYC

    Waffler has demonstrated my point -- he can't understand why these brilliant writers are not more 'lucent' -- as in Lucent Technologies. He has been 'branded' instead of educated (exotic my butt). And Robert as long as you are going to correct people, the word is 'iota' not 'eyeota.' Jim's was a typo, yours is just wrong. Defenders of public education ought to check their spelling when making their point so that they can at least 'appear' intelligent. ;-)

    Robert, Somewhere in Europe

    Though, I am an admirer of John Stuart Mill, I must disagree with him on this point. There are many wonderful and talented teachers who strive to make a difference in a system that is bog down with administrative paper work and government agendas (and I think we know what they are). Even the private schools are heavily influenced by their patrons, and not always for the better. The system should concentrate on education and not tests. The educational system in America is riddle with problems and their is no silver bullet that will improve an already politically and private sector infested system. America spends more on its prisons than its educational system. Education should be FREE like it is in the Nordic countries - their results prove it! Until America begins to attack the root of the problem nothing will change. Problems: parents lack of control over their children - it's amazing how children in France greet new neighbors, and how Indian children are so polite. I have traveled the world and the difference in child behavior is extraordinary. And I put this down to how they are brought up by their parents. Another terrible aspect of the problem American schools face is the total destruction by capitalism of the middle class - it has led to the biggest disparity in income, and it is getting worse. So, when we discuss the American education system we must look at all these areas than contribute to a child's welfare, both from a learning and a behavioral point of view. It was said that a civilized nation is considered by how it treat its children, the elderly, and the infirm - I believe America fails on all three fronts... Until we can stop the flagrant exploitation of politicians, cut military spending by half, have campaign reform (no private or corporate funding of politicians or parties), free health care and education (plus free lunches), reform the prison system, provide jobs by rebuilding our infrastructure, and last, but by no means least, a total restructuring of our educational system. The media in particular is partly to blame also, as it is owned entirely by six corporations, which allows propaganda to flourish - and that propaganda gets into the very sinew of our daily lives. I suppose my commentary will get thumbs down - but the truth hurts... Instead of criticizing our education system, lets constructively and with civility repair it!

    E Archer, NYC
    • Reply
    E Archer, NYC Robert, Somewhere in Europe 9/11/20

    Robert, "the total destruction by capitalism of the middle class"? Sheesh!  Capitalism raises the poor to middle class.  The poor cannot reach the middle class via government subsidy  Without commerce, there are only 2 classes, the ruling class and the serfs, all equally dependent and oppressed.  The embrace of socialism in public schools, praising government as the solver of problems, is the source of despair among the poor  government cannot deliver them; they can only cry out for better conditions for their servitude.

    Capitalism is Commerce  the goal of the socialists is to profit off of commerce among the people.  They produce nothing but skim the cream off the top of everything that passes by them  of course the goal is that EVERYTHING must be tracked and regulated and TAXED.

    The primary evil of socialism is not the ideals of peace and equality, but the fact that everyone must obey the dictates of the social engineers  they have no choice.  Otherwise, they cannot work, cannot use cash/debit/credit cards, cut-off from government services (to which all are beholden), and may possibly be charged with crimes. 

    Hey, progressives, you are fascists!  Wake the f*%k up.

    Ronw13, USA
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    Ronw13, USA    3/1/16

    From an independent point of view there are three basic levels.
    Apprentice, journeyman, mastery. No need to complicate the matter for young upstarts who find no value in the public school system of today. Seeing the backbone of the community at large broken by inflationary tactics of the Banking industry. Surly the Independent contractors have a perspective from the inside out. Many take the Bribe and fall into the trap of compliance, driven by greed. I personally, have witnessed the rise and fall of backbone without knowledge. But experience is our guide. Labor softened over time looses the will to build. Looking for easier ways to make a Buck or buy a home. It has been the ever growing intent of big government to corral and destroy the nonconforming independent spirit of the individual. Please do not insult commonsense, with continued banter of such educated conversation. Ruling powers behind the curtain of government knowing very well the result of " Market Crash " and the effects it has on Certain classes within our society. To erase historical record of those that are " Set at Liberty and Freedom " the Individual Sovereign with inalienable rights, first attack their Belief system at its source through public education and mingling of belief systems. Remove the child from such homes that provide proper Text and moral guidance. The Christian community of this once great nation being a great pinch point. Promote immorality on mass scale, media, one of the biggest parts, and promotion of corrupt text. Children have eaten it up to the point of total confusion. Americas main problem, listening to European garbage dragged to American shores and dumped in this once great nation of Independent Individuals who take a stand against corporate monopolies in league with socialites of the upper crust of the world. Swing sets are what is needed, from the WH to the governors mansion of every state. Union labor parties of Europe go home to europe where you came from. Sickening to see what this nation has become !! John Stuart Mill knew exactly what he was talking about.

    L. Hanson, Edmonton, Canada

    Well, in Canada we had to dumb down our education system because you U-hauls (y'alls) made it a case for trade disparrigement under NAFTA. Really? WTF? So sad. Now, you're trying to make a case for disbanding public education completely? Holy sh!t, your whole nation, except for the 1%, will be sitting in their trailer homes; eating mayonaise sandwiches; f***ing their sisters and voting for Donald Trump; because he loves the un-educated. Let's Make America Great? Do not vote for that jackass.


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