The Pedagogy of Collectivism

200px-Pledge_salue “I don’t want our schools turned over to some socialist movement,” says Brett Curtis, a parent from Pearland, Texas who told the New York Times he’d keep his kids home today during Barack Obama’s speech to schoolchildren nationwide.

Me either! Like I said in the piece linked below, I found the whole ritual pretty cultish and grotesque. But I’m weird. I think the same thing about the Pledge of Allegiance. From a piece I wrote a few years back:

From its inception, in 1892, the Pledge has been a slavish ritual of devotion to the state, wholly inappropriate for a free people. It was written by Francis Bellamy, a Christian Socialist pushed out of his post as a Baptist minister for delivering pulpit-pounding sermons on such topics as “Jesus the Socialist.” Bellamy was devoted to the ideas of his more-famous cousin Edward Bellamy, author of the 1888 utopian novel Looking Backward. Looking Backward describes the future United States as a regimented worker’s paradise where everyone has equal incomes, and men are drafted into the country’s “industrial army” at the age of 21, serving in the jobs assigned them by the state. Bellamy’s novel was extremely popular, selling more copies than other any 19th century American novel except Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Bellamy’s book inspired a movement of “Nationalist Clubs,” whose members campaigned for a government takeover of the economy. A few years before he wrote the Pledge of Allegiance, Francis Bellamy became a founding member of Boston’s first Nationalist Club.

After leaving the pulpit, Francis Bellamy decided to advance his authoritarian ideas through the public schools. Bellamy wrote the Pledge of Allegiance for Youth’s Companion, a popular children’s magazine. With the aid of the National Education Association, Bellamy and the editors of Youth’s Companion got the Pledge adopted as part of the National Public School Celebration on Columbus Day 1892.

Bellamy’s recommended ritual for honoring the flag had students all but goosestepping their way through the Pledge: “At a signal from the Principal the pupils, in ordered ranks, hands to the side, face the Flag. Another signal is given; every pupil gives the Flag the military salute–right hand lifted, palm downward, to a line with the forehead and close to it… At the words, ‘to my Flag,’ the right hand is extended gracefully, palm upward, towards the Flag, and remains in this gesture till the end of the affirmation; whereupon all hands immediately drop to the side.” After the rise of Nazism, this form of salute was thought to be in poor taste, to say the least, and replaced with today’s hand-on-heart gesture.

How many anti-socialist, tea-partying patriots go the whole nine and oppose the Pledge, I wonder?

Posted on Sep 8, 2009 in Conservatism, Cult of the Presidency | Comments

7 Responses to “The Pedagogy of Collectivism”

  1. Posted by: Kevin - 09/11/2009

    Uh…I so agree. After I left school it occurred to me just how weird the “pledge of allegiance” is for a constitutional republic. I honestly don’t say it anymore and when I tell people that they assume I’m some left-wing anti war protester.

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