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Location: Greensboro, NC, United States

Monday, August 27, 2012

J. Gresham Machen, on Statist Education

J. Gresham Machen, in 1926, on the Federal control of education:

"The better it works the worse it suits me; and if these people had their way - if everything could be reduced to a dead level, if everybody could be made like everybody else, if everybody came to agree with everybody else because nobody would be doing any thinking at all for himself, if all could be reduced to this harmony - do you think that the world would be a good place under those circumstances? No, my friends. It would be a drab, miserable world, with creature comforts in it and nothing else, with men reduced to the level of the beasts, with all the higher elements of human life destroyed.

Thus I am in favor of efficiency if it is directed to a good end; but I am not in favor of efficiency if it is directed to something that is bad.

As a matter of fact, Federal departments are not efficient, but probably the most inefficient things on the face of this planet. But if they were the most efficient agencies that history has ever seen, I should, in this field of education, be dead opposed to them. Efficiency in a good cause is good; but I am opposed to Federal efficiency in this sphere because the result of it is a thing that I regard as bad - namely, slavery. And I am not inclined to do what a great many people do today; I am not inclined to write "freedom" in quotation marks as though it were a sort of joke. I believe, on the contrary, that it is something that is very real....

...Let us be perfectly clear about one thing - if liberty is not maintained with regard to education, there is no use trying to maintain it in any other sphere. If you give the bureaucrats the children, you might just as well give them everything else."

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