20.11.15

BOURGEOIS SOCIALISM?

I recall a passage, somewhere in The Communist Manifesto, cautioning scientific socialists not to succumb to the blandishments of all manner of faux-socialisms.  (And that style of political correctness persists to this day, the True Believer must resist all sorts of fine-sounding reforms precisely because those reforms will preserve capitalism, or the wages system, or the existing class society.)

Now comes Senator Bernie Sanders, explaining exactly what he means by "democratic socialism."  Read and understand all of it, although there is not a line in it that refutes an old William F. Buckley quip about the fundamental economic assumptions of liberalism being socialist.

I want to highlight one passage.
Democratic socialism means that, in the year 2015, a college degree is equivalent to what a high school degree was 50 years ago – and that public education must allow every person in this country, who has the ability, the qualifications and the desire, the right to go to a public colleges or university tuition free. This is also not a radical idea. It exists today in many countries around the world. In fact, it used to exist in the United States.
I thought the degradation of the college degree is the bitter fruit of at least 50 years of access-assessment-remediation-retention, and that the right to attend on the taxpayers' dime in other countries is limited to people who screened for college in the sixth grade.  That's how Minding the Campus also understands it.
Back in the 1960s, when the Great Leap Forward into higher education began, the system seemed reasonable. Most of the students who went to college were pretty well prepared and the admission and academic standards at most schools were at least moderately demanding. Expanding “access” to higher education appeared to have only an upside.

The trouble is that Uncle Sam’s increasing “generosity” towards college proved to be very corrosive of those standards over time.

College administrators quickly developed a taste for the additional revenue they could obtain by enrolling more students. To do that, many lowered admission standards and the academic quality of the college-going population began to decline. (That decline was worsened by the fact that academic rigor at many of our high schools was simultaneously falling, as “progressive” educational theories spread.) But to keep the increasingly large number of weak and disengaged students they were luring into their schools happy, it was necessary to water down the curriculum and lower academic expectations.

After decades, those trends have led us to our present, dismal situation – many students who shouldn’t have entered college in the first place are racking up debts for college while learning little and often failing to graduate.
If you think universal health care, something else the senator calls for, and universal higher education are expensive now, just wait ...

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