Chains work best, when they hold minds in their metallic embrace. Sanders has proposed free education, Clinton has claimed the USA could not afford it. Or is it just US plutocracy which cannot afford it?
Much has been made about Economic Inequality, very recently. Economic inequality is an important part of what ails the world, but not really the primary disease itself. The primary engine of disaster is stupidity, and that is caused by Cognitive Inequality. Cognitive Inequality is itself made of two pieces: formal education (which is deficient in anyone who has not learned enough science and the history thereof), and the inclination to learn qualitatively superior knowledge (which is deficient in anybody who is obsessed by sport scores and other celebritism).
Economic Inequality is, overall, reaching levels not seen since the (French) Ancient Regime (when the top 2%, the aristocracy, was rich in part, because, as now, it did not pay enough tax to become less powerful).
Economic Inequality is a euphemism for regime change. Indeed, we are supposed to live in “democracy”, that is demos-kratos, people-rule. To rule, one needs power. However the top 1% wealthiest own more than half of the world’s wealth. It gets much worse when one considers money. The top .01% controls most of the world’s money, that is, power.
Sometimes the supremacy world turns outright bizarre: the pop musician known as “Prince” was rushed from his private jet, doctors gave him a “save shot” to counteract an opiate overdose. However, Prince was a prince, the first of them all (this is what “princeps means) so much above the rest is a prince, that he should not mix with low lives. Told there was no private room in the hospital, the superior creature was bundled back by his bodyguards to his private jet, although “he was not doing well”.
There is a meta question here: how did we get here, in a state of such stupidity? Calling “democracy” a regime where a few have most of the power? One aspect is that the few rule using demonic means: like John Locke, the philosopher, one can talk one way (condemning slavery), and stealthy act in the exact opposite way, using one’s loud advocacy to hide (making oneself invisible, as the god Pluto used to). Then, in turn, Locke is preached, and hypocrisy becomes a mood one imposes on the people to be ruled by.
This is one of the reasons of Trump’s attractiveness: the blue collar masses confusedly perceive that they were massively lied to, and feel that Trump tries to say what he thinks, making him a straight shooter, rather than a puppet reading on a teleprompter the packs of dissemblance which his minders have carefully concocted, Obama style.
Thus, when talking about American education, we hear about its superlative universities, a model for the world, we are told. American universities are elogious about their own mental performance, but mental performance can only be judged as part of the legend of the centuries.
Objectively, American universities are characterized by their connections to money. First, by superlative wealth barriers, and wealth facilitation, to educational access: blocking the poor, allowing the very wealthy in. In the prime universities, the total cost of attending is quickly converging towards twice the median US family income.
Then the sponsors of the universities are among the powers to be of our world. After I went through Stanford, Condoleeza Rice, Bush’s Secretary of State, of Iraq invasion fame, made a meteoric career there. She was barely thirty something and oriented towards the highest powers in the US, Stanford, the White House. Chevron, a sponsor of Stanford University, named a supertanker after Condoleeza. What does this mean? It means that, should you say something against the established order, you will be “banned” (say pointing out that empiricists such as David Hume, Thomas Jefferson, were just using their empiricism to cover-up the most demonic practices… And that greed is a characteristic of “empiricism”) What does it also mean? In the plutocratic university system, once you have been identified as a super-puppet, the world is your oyster.
The combination of both attitudes should encourage intellectual mediocrity at the highest level. Europe has been trying to keep education free.
Some will sneer that Europe is not at the forefront of brains. Or, at least, expensive science. When I was in Stanford, the biggest project of the physics department was to test the Equivalence Principle of the theory of gravitation. Stanford was the leader on that for decades. The money could never be found. (Although NSF funded the research on another of Poincare’ ideas, gravitational waves, to the tune one billion dollars, over decades… successfully.)
In the last few days, France has been trying to launch Microscope from Kuru, Guyana. The 200 million dollar Microscope will test the Equivalence Principle… Should the bad weather above Kuru cooperates.
To find what really the contributors and creators of the highest new thinking should be itself a science. It will become one someday, when computers and artificial intelligence will take care of more mundane matters. Methinks believes that the colossal repute of the American Plutocratic University system will then deflate spectacularly.
There will be many surprises; some laws will be named correctly. Some women will outshine, even in science, the likes of Einstein, even Newton…