Hurrah for the Berkshire Eagle! But some quibbles:

l) Using the word "educator" to describe John Dewey or Vilfredo Pareto is something I would never do; in fact the term doesn't exist at all for me because it commits the rhetorical crime of begging the question and conflates the term schooling and education. You can buy a schooling with clock time, but you can't get an education that way; there are various pretty precise formulae for schooling, but there can be no such for education simply because about 95% of the education it in the head of the learner and outside "teacher" control. You only get an education if you want one and undertake much grueling effort and many dangerous risks to get one; any bozo or muleskinner can get schooled. The Unabomber was clearly an educated man, his pursuers well-schooled.

Now if you accept even part of this anti-government raving from a registered member of the right-wing fringe, it follows that conferring the honorific "educator" in the absence of any evidence other than the presentation of a philosophy or a methodology - and without feedback from the involuntary subjects of the procedures - is unwarranted and even dumb. So don't any of you call someone an educator promiscuously anymore, huh? Personally I only call Mary Leue an educator because she has a funny bone and forgives me.

2 ) Pareto and Dewey were both major fascist thinkers, give them their due on that; the big difference was that Pareto knew it and Dewey avoided facing what he was all his life. When he destroyed the crippled writer Randolph Bourne's career during WWI Dewey branded himself. He was much more than a fascist, of course. No complicated spirit fits comfortably under any rubric, but under the skin of the humanist always beat the heart of an evolutionary evangelist forwarding the cause of good breeding as specified in the work of Anglican parson Malthus and his blood cousins Charles Darwin and Francis Galton. I'm always astonished at how few people have figured out the obvious connection between helping the "favored races" evolve and forced compulsion schooling curriculum intended for the unfavored. Dewey's bread was always buttered by Big Money.

Nor is it necessary to be barbaric or right wing to be a proper fascist. The most successful fascist of the 20th century is the only woman ever to be buried in Westminster Cathedral - Beatrice Webb. Founder of the British Labor Party, the London School of Economics, (Mick Jagger went there), The Economist, New Statesman and of course the guiding spirit of the Fabians. What Bea Webb fans (and I count myself one of them) are usually unaware of is the interesting fact that her uncle, her closest friend, her intimate confederate was Herbert Spencer, the leading Darwinian of the 19th century and the originator of our "survival of the fittest" creed. Both Herb and his niece Bea absolutely agreed on ends; it was only means in which they differed. Bea wanted the bad breeding stock s...l...o....w...l...y and gently put out of its misery with bread, circuses and welfare; Herb said fuck 'em, sweat the bastards until they're dead. It's true I personally prefer Spencer's kind of gritty honesty to Webb's murderous maternalism but I'd unabomb the pair of them If I knew how. (Is the correct form unibomb"? or "unabomb?")

3) I don't know what the right-wing fringe is. Having accepted David Colfax's challenge to me made three years ago at the Sacramento Home School Convention in which he warned me not to accept a speaking invitation from a radical Christian right wing group in Atlanta because "they will lock you in a room, blockade the door and try to convert you."

I have by now spoken before ten Pentecostal groups, about seven seriously Christian homeschool groups and the John Birch Society (once). This is out of five hundred seventeen appearances in forty-nine states and seven foreign countries since July l5, l991. (That's why I'm fat; all I do is fly, rent cars, write speeches, make speeches, read, eat and drink whisky). I went into this experience with a little trepidation because of David (Homeschooling for Excellence)'s caveat. My god, Mary, having lived on the West Side of New York City among textbook liberals for thirty years, knowing many of them as close friends, having gone to Columbia University and Cornell, I thought I knew everything there was to know about close-mindedness, bigotry, violence in word and deed, anger, envy and the rest of the catalogue: what new diabolatry could these... these... Christians... be capable of?! Frankly it made my blood run cold as it does Frank Rich's on the New York Times OP ED page (my favorite Christian-basher so far).

Unfortunately I was let down. A more polite, generous, loving, curious, interesting, open-minded group with lovelier children I never ran into. In Georgia, Arizona, New Mexico, Montana, Washington, Oregon, Kansas, etc. I couldn't seem to shake one single violent, bigoted statement out of any of them. DAMN! Finally, when one of the three founders of the John Birch Society told me in his home that the group became aware in the early 60's that it wasn't Commie rat bastards screwing up American society but big business interests in alliance with their "progressive" (profitably progressive) friends and that this discovery had caused an avalanche of violently negative characterizations of his group to fill the liberal press (but you and I read Chomsky, don't we, so we know exactly how "liberal" that really is), I just gave up. I mean, what would you do when one of the inner circle of the radical right insisted on making me hear a music recital done exclusively by his eleven grandchildren, `ages four to seventeen, when you discovered that although an amazingly wealthy man ($300 million?) he insisted on paying his working class employees a "living wage" so that their families could have a stable home life, when you discovered that he paid out of his own pocket so that twenty per cent of the enrollment of an elegant private school would be from dirt poor black and Mexican families, and when his own daughter picked you up at the airport incubating chicks on the front seat of her pickup truck? I was, naturally, disgusted.

I mean, what in hell is going on?! Is it just barely possible that the "radical right" is desperately needed to provide a plot for some otherwise sorry-ass lives? I dunno. I was reading into the works of Margaret Sanger the other day and came across this line from the founder of "Planned" Parenthood, "The greatest favor any family could do for society is to put one of its children to death." Well, maybe, Maggie. In the same reading session I ran across a speech Jacques Rousseau gave before a session of UNESCO in which he said (I'm paraphrasing, but closely) "We must find a way quickly to eliminate fifty thousand lives a day. It is terrible to say this, but more terrible not to." Sound good to you? I wonder who he meant by "we"? ]

Mary, I better quit before I start raving like the right-wing fringe. Pray for me and write if you get work.

Much love,
John Taylor Gatto