Classical Chaos: Philosophy, Religion, Plunder, Conquest or Christ.
“Distorting the human mind
is the problem that seems to have been set
and that the bodies to which the monopoly of teaching
has been allocated have settled on.”
Frederic Bastiat, “Baccalaureate and Socialism”, 1850
Why the Current Classical Quest?
The quote above is from French Economist Frederic Bastiat (1801-1850). The article was written for a parliamentary commission looking into the question of freedom of education.
Americans today are plagued by similar evidence as public education is now under unifying Federally coerced standards, unending formative testing, indoctrinating curriculum, and tracking; administered by electronic media, facilitating technicians, and designed for laborforce development.
This nationalization of education has accelerated a burgeoning exodus from traditional public education. “The public education monopoly” is now dictated by central planners, connected crony capitalists, layers of functionary administrators, and executed by regimented technicians; funded by public plunder.
As the pendulum swings from metrics and technology driven ‘ward of state’ schools at one end, to a resurgence of “classical” education at the other extreme, one must delve deeper into the means, methods, content and history of “classical” education; prior to mind distortion and the sound of the guillotine, again separating the head from the heart and the soul. “Classical” must be clarified.
Greeks and Romans in brief review.
Now would be a good time to recall that mankind is always looking for God, and thus often gets sidetracked worshipping some created thing or creation itself; or making someone else a god, or making oneself a god.
The pagan Greeks certainly modeled this need for God, as they promoted literally hundreds of gods, goddesses, deities, Titans, giants, and mortals that they worshipped, sacrificed to; and for whom they built impressive Temples to appease, supplicate and support their economy. Religion pays and can also promote plunder.
The Greek terrain is rocky, mountainous and rugged. So, ancient Greek cities were often isolated city-states, accessible to coastal waters. Greeks were navel masters, traders, warriors and philosophers who spread their philosophies by satellite communities in other lands with whom they established trade.
The Greek character was noted for the activity of intellect, in the scientific, speculative aspect. As such Greece is noted as the birthplace of philosophy. Greece is noted for the extremes of tyranny and democracy, the theatre of military arms, the cradle of the arts, the schools of philosophy and the parent of eloquence in language, literature and rhetoric.
The burgeoning middle class, which were required to fulfill military duties, developed weaponry, strategies and specializations to become nearly invincible. (hoplon, phalanx, hoplites…battle of Marathon.)
Such disparity arose between the increasingly wealthy and the destitute poor, that in 594 B.C. the ruler Solon canceled all debt, debt slavery, and mortgages in Athens. (Rather akin to God’s instructions for the Year of Jubilee.) But alas not all rulers, actually called Tyrants, were so generous. (with other peoples’ resources?) A few decades later Pisistratus’ son Hippias, the tyrant in command, abruptly changed his policies and instigated a reign of terror.
Eventually, in 508 B.C., Cleisthenes came to power, brought reforms, and is credited as “the father of Athenian democracy.”
Suffrage was not universal in Athens. To be a voting citizen required:
- Proof that both parents were born in Athens
- Proof that both parents were of the citizen class
- Proof that both parents were legally married.
- Proof to be at least eighteen years of age
Since being a voting “citizen” required intense devotion to studying the politics, researching the issues, formulating reasoned rhetoric for debate, and physical prowess for military service…. there needed to be other classes to do the manual labor.
These non-citizen workers would be the metics, the foreigner traders, shop keepers, artisans and ship owners; and the slaves, who did all the manual labor in homes, markets, workshops, silver mines and much of the education of children. (Keep that dot in mind…slaves will revolt one way or another.)
Athens eventually fell, it is said, because in the end Athenians valued security and comfort more than freedom.
Simultaneously, other Greek city-states were forming their own character, such as Sparta. Spartan citizenship demands were more rigorous than the Athenian demands. A Spartan citizen was required to:
- Prove that both parents were descended from the original Dorian invaders
- Complete every stage of the Spartan School System, whose main subject was warfare
- Have membership in one of the Military clubs and provide food and drink contributions for the membership collective
- Be at least 30 years of age
All Spartan citizens were full-time professional soldiers, who were forbidden to do any other form of work from the ages of eighteen to sixty years. Even when not engaged in battle, Spartan citizens were expected to live in the harsh discipline of the Spartan warrior’s regimentation. Total loyalty to the city-state and to those in authority was expected without question or comment; they were to be prepared at all times for war and to prefer death rather than defeat in battle.
Baby boys that were born to the soldier class were examined at birth to ascertain any blemish or weakness. If the infant passed inspection, he was permitted to live. (If not, then America is not the originator of live birth abortion, aka infanticide, although 60 million certainly places America past the ranks of Spartan brutality.)
When the boy was seven years of age, he was taken to the barracks-school where he learned to fight and survive. Expected to “marry” by age thirty, the Spartan soldier would not live with his wife, but in the austere barracks until old age. Thus, all citizens were systematically trained for military obedience to the national creed of defense, offense, plunder and survival based on producing the greatest military power in Greece.
Brawn and brains do not ensure survival of nations, city-states, Greek military leaders, kings or self-acclaimed deities.
Macedonian Alexander the Great (356 -323 B.C.), who was tutored by Aristotle, and who expanded the Greek Empire to its greatest borders, is said to have claimed himself descended from the Egyptian and Greek ‘gods’. Yet, Alexander too, fell the way of human mortals, died at age thirty-two, reportedly after extended drunken revelry, and had failed to plan for his Empire’s future leadership upon his untimely death.
The Roman Rules
Meanwhile, another pagan nation, the Romans, have been busy raping and pillaging, consolidating and centralizing for several centuries. The Roman character is noted for its tenacious, utilitarian, focused practicality, political organizing and the idea of the law. Where the Athenians were abstract, the Romans were concrete. The Romans were literally concrete as they constructed enormous public works including: roads, bridges, archways, aqueducts, ostentatious villas, public baths, temples, amphitheaters, coliseums and harbors out of concrete, stone and mortar. These structures would pave the way for conquest, permanent occupation, imperialism, centralized planning; and a pattern of military dictatorships, and deification.
While the linguistically rich Greek language became the language of poets, playwrights, philosophers, most of the New Testament Scriptures, and the Hebrew Old Testament translated into Greek, The Septuagint LXX; the Latin language became the language of the law. Wherever the Romans invaded, conquered and remained, they carried with them the idea of the law.
The Roman vision was universal conquest, permanent occupation, and enforced assimilation to the law. The Roman Road would bring legions, governors, judges and battalions of bureaucrats, tax collectors and the data collecting metrics mongers. Prior to Caesars and Emperors, the Consuls, Praetors, Aediles and Quaestors would keep Romans fed, entertained, taxed, comfy and conformed while the military continued to conquer, concentrate power, enslave and force assimilation. Roman citizenship eventually became meaningless with the collapse of republican form of government and the advent of The Dictatorial Empire.
Subjugated Greeks get revenge via education and assimilation
Slaves were a necessity in the Greek and Roman cultures, where few “citizens” actually worked. Those who do not work, obtain their resources via conquest and plunder. Like any subjugated people the Greeks got their revenge on the Romans. The Greeks assumed roles of educators and infected the Roman disciplined culture with Greece’s pattern of turbulent governments and sensual passions.
The Greeks, in their extremes of tyranny and democracy were never bound together by any principle of common interest, except when danger acutely brought brief alliances, leagues, to war against a common enemy. Greek laws had been feeble, contradictory, fluctuating and ill administered.
Greeks were described as “light and capricious people, acute in their feelings, carried away by every sudden gust of passion, as mutable in their opinions as unjust in their decisions.
The most illustrious patriots were first sacrificed, and then honored with statues; their heroes were murdered as traitors, and then reverenced as gods… Athen’s arts were carried to excess, and misapplied to vicious purposes such that her devotedness to the arts not only precipitated her own ruin, —but by transplantation of those arts, encumbered with those vices, ultimately contributed to ruin of Rome also.”
Roman statues had been brought from plundered provinces, Roman amphitheaters that were built for gladiator shows, were scenes of bloody cruelty, more ghastly than the licentiousness of Greek theatre. Cruel suffering was the national characteristic of the close of the Roman republic. Slave wars, civil wars, wars of conquest, raping, pillage and plunder, left their accusing cries. The emblems of grandeur, magnitude, and strength are also monuments of the tyranny and cruelty, which reigned over its formation, and the general suffering that was ubiquitous.
From that review we can well understand why French Statesman Frederic Bastiat and others did not hold the classical education’s Latinism as a model to emulate:
“Since the start of this debate, the university and the clergy have been throwing accusations at each other like so many balls. “You are perverting our youth with your philosophical rationalism,” say the clergy. “You are dulling its wits with your religious dogmatism, “ replies the university.
Arbitrators then come forward and say: “Religion and philosophy are sisters. Let us merge free examination and authority. University and clergy, you have taken turns having the monopoly. Share it and let us have an end to it.”
The two forms of teaching have been disastrous not because of what separates them but because of what they have in common.
Yes, I am convinced of this. There is one common factor in these two forms of teaching, the abuse of classical studies, and it is this that both have perverted the judgment and morality of the country. They differ in that one emphasizes the religious element while the other emphasizes the philosophical one, but these elements, far from having caused the harm they are reproached for, have lessened it.
We are indebted to them for not being as barbaric as the barbarians unceasingly put up by Latinism for us to imitate.”
Frederic Bastiat, “Baccalaureate and Socialism”, 1850
Revisiting The Road to Serfdom…. Austrian Economist Friedrich Hayak (1899-1992) weighs in connecting the militarism paving the road to socialism:
“It was not the Fascists but the socialists who began to collect children from the tenderest age into political organizations to make sure that they grew up as good proletarians.
It was not the Fascists but the socialists who first thought of organizing sports and games, football and hiking, in party clubs where members would not be infected by other views.
It was the socialists who first insisted that the party member should distinguish himself from others by the modes of greeting and forms of address.
It was they who by their organization of “cells” and devices for the permanent supervision of private life created the prototype of the totalitarian party. Balilla* and Hitlerjugend*, Dopolavoro* and Kraft durch Freude*, political uniforms and military party formations, are all little more than imitations of older socialist institutions.”
The Road to Serfdom, F.A. Hayak, 1944
One can easily recognize the Athenian, Spartan, and Roman influences in
The Prussian militaristic obedient tiered classes,
The German and Italian Fascism and
The Communism of Russia ,
The Socialism of the sensory driven emotional French.
And the revenge of those who have infiltrated into American culture whose creed is in conflict with the original foundations of American individualism, personal responsibility, the rule of law, and liberty under God.
In a totalitarian collective it is the leader who establishes the ends for which his devoted controlled administrators and standardized masses will be dedicated, prepared, and passionately committed to follow arbitrary processes to achieve. The Despot inspires devotees to lead the docile, emotional, sensory driven masses, fomenting social justice revolutions against a common “enemy” upon which to focus “envy”. i.e. Ethnicity, education, class, culture, religion, property, wealth, virtue, region, nation, economic creed etc.
“Classical education” is a method, a means to an end.
The Question is whose “end”?
Masses lacking Christ, who have been socialized, collectivized and managed via regimented standardized education processes, classical or other, will be formatted, uploaded, fabricated to fulfill the arbitrary ends of the Caesar, Fuhrer, Prince, Tyrant, General, and Technocracy controlling administrators and functionaries of the totalitarian regime, city-state, region, Reich, collective or community.
This Despotic entity itself becomes a religion, with its leader as a god…Alexander, Julius Caesar, Caesar Augustus, Pharaohs, Louis, Napoleons Hitler, Mussolini, Mao etc. etc.
Christ in the Classical.
Unless classical education puts Christ at the center, on the throne, and reveals the relationship of all aspects of the classical studies to the Judeo-Christian Scriptures, The History of God redeeming fallen mankind through Christ; without Him, the classical education is nothing more than the ongoing means by which to distort more minds, manipulate their senses, puff up intellectual pride, and continue the enslavement of souls which the Deceiver began in The Garden.
Ancient Greek philosophers and Modern Roman planners are not going to save your personal liberties. For that salvation you’re going to need the Original God. The Only One.
“He is the image of the invisible God….He is before all things,
and in Him all things hold together…”
Only ‘in Christ’ can classical education begin to redeem individuals and equip them as stewards of intellectual piety to be capable of self-governing under God.
Thus, classical must be Christian. And since parents are responsible for the physical, emotional, cognitive and spiritual education of their children, Classical Christian education must be ubiquitous with parental oversight to the individual child.
Otherwise, the classical method will merely be regimented classical collectivism of the secular enlightened ones and produce Platos republic, Plato’s “noble lies”, his efficient military machine, Sorel’s “myths”….and more serfs with stickers and pikes.
Yes, it will take labor, patience and personal sacrifice to parent, but as one of the self educated Founders commented,
“Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
Thank goodness we don’t get what we deserve, but we can at minimum do our best to value what others have sacrificed on our behalf and equip our children to Stand in Christ.
[ Frederic Bastiat, vol. 4, p.442. “Baccalaureate et Socialisme.” 1850. This article was written in early 1850 for a parliamentary commission looking into the question of the freedom of education.]
Edward Gibbon The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire
The Torah and the books of Daniel, Esther, Ezra, Nehemiah and The New Testament
The Works of Hannah More, American edition
History Revealed, Volume I, Ancient Civilizations and The Bible, Diana Waring
The Road to Serfdom, Friedrich Hayek
Josephus, The Essential Works
Alexander the Great, Robin Lane Fox
Cyrus the Great, The Arts of Leadership and War, Xenophon
The Federalist and Anti-Federalist Papers
Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
Autobiography of Margaret Thatcher
*Balilla, Italian Fascist Youth organization 1926-1937, functioned as an addition to youth education….absorbed into the youth section of the National Fascist Party
*Dopolavoro, Italian Fascist leisure and recreational organization for adults
*Hitlerjugend, Hitler Youth, the sole official youth organization of the Nazi Party, particularly a para-military organization, branches German Youth, Deutsches Jungvolk, for younger males, and League of German Girls, Bund Deutscher Madel (BDM)
*Kraft durch Freude, (KdF)Nazi operated leisure organization, promoting socialism by making available middle-class leisure activities available to the masses. Used by Goebbels to attract tourism to Germany and promote German Fascim.