27 February 2012


I did not write this: I saw it on facebook; Michael Farris wrote it. But it was very thought-provoking, so I decided to repost. Since you can share things on facebook and I'm 'citing' it, I hope there isn't any infringement.

"A new homeschooling mom asked me about facts about socialization and homeschooling. Here is my best short answer. OK, OK, it is a short answer for me--not short the way FB measures shortness.

Some time back I met a sociologist who worked for 30 years-plus for the Smithsonian Institute. He studied cultures where there were no formal schools. Socialization, in a formal sense, is how one generation teaches the rules of society to the next generation.

Once you understand this, the key concept of socialization is apparent. Children need to learn the rules of society from the older generations and not from other children. In fact, we are reaping the havoc in our society where 13 year-olds are learning the rules of society from other 13 year-olds. If you want to understand why today's 16 year olds are so much less mature than 16 year olds of my parents' and grandparents' generations it is pretty simple--my parents and grandparents were socialized by adults while today's 16 year olds have been largely socialized by other children.

This sociologist had been studying these cultures for so many years that he had been able to do before and after studies--cultures that had no formal educational programs when he was first starting, now had adopted compulsory school attendance. He said that his studies demonstrated a clear drop in social competence after the introduction of formal education. Moreover, socially undesirable behaviors including alcoholism and crime levels had gone up dramatically after the introduction of formal education.

This is the reason that Vickie and I started homeschooling--we didn't like the way our daughter, Christy, was being socialized by other six year olds at a Christian school. We just had the audacity to believe that we had better ideas than six year olds. Children get their values from the people they interact with the most. Spend time with kids, get your values from kids. Spend time with parents, get your value from parents.

When Christy was 14, she accompanied Vickie and I at a human rights conference in Paris. One day Vickie and I went for a walk just before lunch and we got back late to the luncheon. Christy was already there seated between a priest from Portugal and a barrister from London. She was engaged in an animated conversation with two adults from different cultures. When we got home, I saw her on the floor playing games with her younger siblings and then soon after, I saw her interacting perfectly normally with girls on her softball who were her age.

My favorite socialization story of all came from a softball team. I coached girls softball for over 20 years. I was a very good coach, winning lots of championships. Parents always seemed happy when their daughter ended up on my team.

One year I called a mom to tell her that her daughter was going to be on my team. She said, "Who are the other girls on the team?" I read her the names. She said, "Oh my, those are almost all 8th graders--my daughter is a 7th grader--I don't think she can get along with those older girls." I wanted to scream "What about socialization?!!!!"

A public school girl was unable to get along with girls from her own school who just 12 months older than her. Talk about narrow socialization.

God's ways work. Parents are the best to teach their children the rules of society. We have always had our children involved with other kids and with other adults. We do not live narrow lives. We do not raise our children in age-segregated herds. Our kids are now grown for the most part, and they are all quite capable people in every sphere of life--including socialization.

One sobering thought: You want to know why the younger generation supports same-sex marriage so much more often than older generations? They have been socialized by their peers, by public schools, and by Hollywood.

If you want your children to share your values then teach them yourself."

Thoughts, anyone? =)

21 February 2012

Contributions to insanity

I am always happy to oblige anyone who would like to toast their brain on stuff most people don't care about =) Here's another dose!

"What were common elements in the development of modern nationalism in the territories of the Russian Empire and early Soviet Union?”

The rise of nationalism in the Baltic States, Ukraine, and Russia, happened in some very different ways – but in all three cases, there were common themes that helped this development. Of most interest for the purpose of this paper are the themes of literature, language, and music. Nationalism is a product of a national identity, and a national identity is forged through common experience, whether historical or fictional. As will be seen, the difference in what kind of shared experience is used to develop a national consciousness is directly related to what the position of the state was within the Soviet Union. These three – the Baltic States, Ukraine, and Russia – had three ways of going about their national progress: discovery, protest, and self-identification. These differences were directly related to their political status and how much needed to be done in order to have free expression of national identity. However, despite these differences, all three had a common approach to developing a national consciousness: the usage of literature,[1] language,[2] and music.[3]
Nationalism as discovery
 In the case of the Baltic States, the national identity came from a desire to throw off the yoke of Russian and Baltic German oppression and move toward recognition as free states. Just below the surface of subordinated states lay “Baltic nationalism [with] its capacity to inspire and move; its intense love for old, precious and unique traditions; and its basically peaceful and unaggressive character.”[4] Instead of leaving objectionable rule in place, there was potential for a new kind of nationalism – one that would hold on to myths, folklore, and traditional songs, and then simply promote a national identity. This was done through gaining a sense of cultural identity did not need to be manufactured, only fostered: and literature and music that recalled history (whether authentic or legendary[5]) proved ideal to bring this about. “Until the early nineteenth century, peasant folk-songs and legends were, to all intents and purposes, the essence of Latvian and Estonian culture”.[6] From this, it follows that “When [the folk song and dance festivals] began, under Russian imperial rule in the nineteenth century, they symbolized not only the unity and aspirations but the very existence of the Baltic nations … Before 1917, each national festival was seen as a further step in the consolidation and mobilization of the spirit of Baltic nations”.[7] The national festivals were seen to be such for good cause, as they were indeed a part of the development of Baltic nationalism.
Additionally, native languages needed to be preserved and put to use: Baltic Germans, who were attempting to keep Latvians under control, “denied utterly that [the Latvians] were capable of a literary language, … [realizing that] as soon as they admitted that the Latvians and Estonians were nations, rather than rebellious peasants stirred up by agitators, their whole historical and intellectual position would collapse”.[8] Suppressing the native language was, then, a priority in keeping control of the nations and suppressing national identity. The importance of language can also be seen in the way its lack hurt nationalism: “The failure to develop a written language until the sixteenth century … was … [an] obvious weakness of the old Lithuanian pagan culture”[9] and one that resulted in “a massive Lithuanian inferiority complex and a sense of cultural vulnerability vis-à-vis the Poles”.[10] This was not to be resolved until Lithuania emerged in the nineteenth century “in a new form: a linguistic nation”[11] and one that would be able to assert independence and gain its own identity as its Latvian and Estonian counterparts were also doing.[12]
Nationalism as protest
The form of nationalism taken in Ukraine was different than that taken in the Baltic States, although as will be seen, the medium had the same components. Ukrainian politics had long been under the rule of others, and an appeal to an ideal Ukrainian state that had not been dominated by a foreign power was not something that could be reasonably made and have success. Instead, “Since a state which could be glorified as the bearer of the ‘national ideal’ did not exist, enormous stress was placed on securing absolute adherence to the ‘pure’ national language and culture”.[13]  This was not so hard; it wasn’t that the Ukrainians enjoyed Soviet Rule and being exploited. More difficult was developing a sense of national identity that would be strong enough to stand up to the Russians.
Ukrainian nationalism became a rival of Communism since it was inevitably a class struggle: “Both [Communism’s] ideology and its practical possibilities induced it to seek especially the support of the urban industrial workers, led and inspired by a group of dissident intellectuals”. However, these people were the ones who were singing national songs and telling national stories in the years between 1917-20 and were “able to maintain a series of Ukrainian governments on the soil of Ukraine” [14] – disastrous to the suppression of a national consciousness!  However, this was only made possible through the usage of a common Ukrainian language and promotion of Ukrainian literature and song that would evoke nationalist feelings.[15] These feelings were not of the old days of glory, as was possible in the Baltic States; those days did not exist in the historical past of Ukraine. Instead, the heroes of the nationalist stories were the peasants and people of Ukraine, people and lifestyles with whom Ukrainians could relate. “Nationalist Ukrainians felt it essential to instill a love of the indigenous popular arts and customs, emphasizing their distinctive nature”, also songs “as a powerful intellectual and emotional stimulus to nationalist feeling, since most of the songs were distinctively Ukrainian”.[16]
More important than a past turned out to be identification, and if it wasn’t that the same characters of old had shaped their country, then at least everyone had grown up in the same country, knew the same language, and was able to understand the same traditions. In developing a national consciousness, an awareness of others being similar was imperative – and Ukrainian literature showed Ukrainians that they were not alone in their situation and gave them a nationality with which to identify. “Since it was vital to the emerging nation that its language and its history be embodied in works which could inspire loyalty, it was only natural that the leaders of the nationalist movement should have been writers.”[17] Thus, “the majority of [nationalist] leadership consisted of intellectuals par excellence; that is, it was drawn from the academic or literary profession” [18] Through writers and literature, Ukrainian nationalism was developed as distinctively non-Russian and something entirely unique – a protest against the prevailing Russian culture, but one that could sustain itself on account of the way it went about it.

Nationalism as self-identification
Russian national awareness began developing long before the collapse of Imperial Russia, particularly in 1838-48, when Russians became “aware of themselves and their society in a way which could not be controlled by the Third Section and the censorship, despite their efforts to do so. Direct political and social commentary was forbidden, but philosophy, literature and criticism enabled the debate about Russia and its place in the world …”[19] Russian nationalism takes difficult twists, because by its nature it is a self-destroying spirit. Whereas Baltic and Ukrainian nationalism consisted strongly of identifying outside Russia, it was not so simple for Russians to do that. The way this problem was solved was through identification with what they were not. Russians were not able to say that they were against Russia, but they could protest their loyalty to ‘Mother Russia’ and identify with that apart from the Russia of the early 1900’s. One Russian writer even states that “the countryside writers were in effect ‘wanderers returning to our native land’”[20] – sensing that even in a country not under foreign domination, there can still be a need to have a national consciousness apart from the political state. Russian nationalism was not a new concept – just as nationalism was not a new concept for any of these countries, – but it was being expressed in a new way.
Since Russian nationalists around the turn of the century could not identify themselves as standing against the Soviet Union for freedom (since they were a part of the ‘older brother’ country in the Union and breaking away from themselves would only be self-destructive), Russian nationalism instead rose from the inside and idealized the Russian land itself.[21] This movement was not a search for an exterior nationalism, but instead a drawing upon of Russian culture for a sense of nationalism aside from the state of affairs that was being displayed in Russia. The task was to develop a sense of Russian identity apart from the Soviet Union, which drew upon Russian culture that was not dependent on the Soviet Union – a sense of history and place, calling upon loyalty through addressing the historical self of the Russian people and appealing to their roots in Russian soil to call forth a sense of national pride. In this way, the nationalists were able to instill a sense of solidarity in Russian people and invoke a nationalist movement – although again, on account of the rather unique position of Russia in the Soviet Union, there was no real need for a revolution against the head state but instead a changed awareness in culture and an increased sense of national awareness. This may appear to be rather different from the nationalist movements in the Baltic States and Ukraine, but the medium is again the same – Russian writers using evocative images of childhoods past and the culture of Russia contributed heavily to the establishment of this sense of identity through writing about “eternal, national values”[22] that were unmistakably Russian.
While there were different needs for the Baltic States, Ukraine, and Russia in the development of a nationalist movement, there clearly were common elements in the way these changes took place. Some of the largest contributing factors were the common usages of literature, language, and music in the culture. As promoting the national language the use is apparent, as promoting a certain perspective on history national literature’s place seems obvious, and in evoking a sense of solidarity and shared experience music is certainly a strong factor in stirring emotions and recalling the past. These all working together show that although the needs of different cultures, different backgrounds, and different political situations are very different (and at times seem self-obstructive) in developing nationalism, there are commonalities as well.  
J.A. Armstrong, Ukrainian Nationalism (New York: Columbia University Press, 1963).
F.C. Barghoorn, Soviet Russian Nationalism (New York: Oxford University Press, 1956).
S.K. Carter, Russian Nationalism (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1990). 
L. Hajda and M. Beissinger, The Nationalities Factor in Soviet Politics and Society (Boulder:
Westview Press, 1990).
A. Lieven, The Baltic Revolution (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993).
R. Pearson, National Minorities in Eastern Europe (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1983).

[1] P.A. Goble, Readers, Writers, and Republics: The Structural Basis of Non-Russian Literary Politics, as found in L. Hajda and M. Beissinger, The Nationalities Factor in Soviet Politics and Society, p. 133.
[2] R. Pearson, National Minorities in Eastern Europe 1848-1945, p. 25.
[3] A. Lieven, The Baltic Revolution, p. 111.
[4] A. Lieven, p. 128.
[5] ibid., p. 124.
[6] ibid., p. 111.
[7] ibid.. 
[8] ibid., p. 136.
[9] ibid., p. 47.
[10] ibid., p. 48.
[11] ibid., p. 49.
[12] ibid., p. 125.
[13] J.A. Armstrong, Ukrainian Nationalism, p. 22.
[14] ibid., p. 10.
[15] ibid., p. 226.
[16] ibid., p. 225.
[17] ibid., p. 7.
[18] ibid., p. 239.
[19] S.K. Carter, Russian Nationalism, p. 16.
[20] V. Soloukhin, A Walk in Rural Russia, qtd. S.K. Carter p. 90.
[21] F.C. Barghoorn, Soviet Russian Nationalism, p. 150.
[22] S.K. Carter, p. 98. 

05 February 2012

Back to the Churn

Churning out papers, that is! ;) For anyone who enjoys reading strange papers on obscure topics, you're in luck. Anyone else can stop reading and go do something enjoyable with life :D

Question: "Out of deep opposition to the war in Iraq and its aftermath, a candidate for the House of Representatives makes the following statement in a campaign speech: 'The United States is an oppressive, imperialist, war-mongering bully, and the principal goal of international politics today must be to restrain this Great Satan so that it cannot impose its wicked designs on innocent peoples.' Did this candidate go beyond the limits of acceptable rhetoric and breach an obligation of loyalty? Cast your answer in the form of a scholastic disputation."

Whether this candidate overstepped the bonds of loyalty
Objection 1: It would seem that this candidate did not commit treason or betrayal.  While calling the United States an “oppressive, imperialist, war-mongering bully” is not complimentary, it also gives away no treasonous secrets to enemies and does not attack the country in any way other than verbally, which form of attack is protected under the right to free speech in the constitution of this country.  The government need not appreciate or approve of everything said by its citizens; the provision of the right to free speech shows that such occurrences are actually expected.  To this purpose, while candidates for Congress would generally be expected to speak with at least some show of allegiance to country, this is not a legal necessity. The candidate’s speech was an expression of opinion, not an act of disloyalty.

Objection 2: Further, language is not always an accurate way to determine loyalty.  Rhetoric allows more freedom of speech than ordinary language because it ought not to be taken quite literally, and the speech here is clearly an example of rhetoric.  The words may have caused offense to some members of American society in expressing a view that was not popular or in line with the opinion of those listening.  However, it is impossible that every person agrees with everything said by every other person.  If this speech offended sensibilities it was not specifically obscene; and while many people might not agree with what was said, it did not ‘shock the conscience’ with suggestions of drastic action to be taken against the United States.  Neither governmental appreciation of a suggestion nor general agreement on a particular point of view by the American populace are prerequisites for a condition of an attitude of loyalty.  As such, the candidate’s rhetoric cannot be taken to be an expression of disloyalty against the United States, as it is simply a personal opinion, dramatically put.

Objection 3: Further, there is a distinction between patriotism and loyalty, and it is the decision of the individual as to if their loyalty is equivalent to the patriotism that they express toward the current governmental policies.  A person can be loyal to a person (or, in this case, to an institution such as a government) and speak out against them without overstepping loyalty – on the contrary, loyalty to an ideal can require that harsh truths be spoken.  This rhetoric is nothing more than an appeal to “the divine spark of reason shared by all human beings” (158) spoken of by Kant.  By emphasizing the plight of those ‘innocent peoples’ who are being put upon by the United States government, the candidate is showing loyalty to the common brotherhood of humanity.  If this comes across as being less-than-patriotic to country, that is unfortunate: on the contrary, this candidate is actually showing a concern for the protection of people who are being imposed upon.  It is conceivable that this loyalty would, in the future, also include the American people, should this candidate feel that they were being imposed upon as well. The immediate concern for foreign people should not be taken to be a lack of concern for domestic affairs, but instead a realization that international issues are more pressing at the moment and domestic ones may well come later and would at that point be addressed.   

On the contrary, “External events are not important in themselves.  They have moral significance only so far as they provide evidence to confirm or disconfirm the inner sentiment” (47).

I answer that, Had the candidate called out in his speech for reform from within the House and made that a part of his campaign, that would have been acceptable.  Under free speech, the candidate has the right to say what he thinks, and there was no treason, obscene talk, or slander involved.  The law was not broken.  However, it is not necessary that loyalty and obedience follow the same lines. Just as obedience can be forced and that is not loyalty, so a lack of treason is hardly an expression of loyalty.  The candidate’s view that ‘international politics’ must become involved is where he crossed the line.  He could have shown loyalty to his ‘true country’ through showing a kind of ethical loyalty: using his platform to show how he was planning to ‘restrain’ the United States, and showing loyalty by making it a better, more moral place to live.  In the setting of a campaign speech for a government job, however, the appeal to international versus domestic politics is either being made against the very people to whom it is directed, or else is an attempt to incite the American people against their government.  In either case, the candidate is taking his grievance out of the appropriate context and simply speaking against his country to a pointless end.  This is disloyal, not edifying toward some distant good.

Reply to Objection 1: While it is true that the candidate did not break the law and commit a form of treason and betrayal, the lack of loyalty in his speech is apparent.  The words used were harsh against the country: had he possessed loyalty he would have been phrasing his concerns in a way that were constructive and suggesting policies for change, instead of flat criticism without an obvious solution in mind. Even if the words spoken were legal under the constitution of the United States, there is a difference between legality and loyalty.  The lack of crime does not portend loyalty, and as such this candidate’s words should not be taken to be some skewed form of patriotism for a far-off idealistic good but instead for the disloyalty that they are.

Reply to Objection 2: Regardless of the apparent fact that the candidate was using rhetoric and perhaps even being carried away by the flow of words, this does not excuse the speech and certainly makes no case that the candidate was in fact loyal.  Even if it were consistently true that rhetoric is an exaggeration, this candidate would be found to be exaggerating in the wrong direction.  Taken to an extreme on the outside, calling the country a “Great Satan”, does not prove betrayal - but does show a (perhaps milder, but not necessarily so) internal sentiment that is contrary to the government and therefore to loyalty.  The argument that loyalty was being shown to humanity and therefore even to United States citizens is a valid one, but the question is not if the candidate is or is not lacking in loyalty at all but if he has gone too far in speaking against the United States and the loyalty due his country.  To that end, the general loyalty argument does not apply and his disloyalty is evident.

Reply to Objection 3: This candidate is lacking even the barest minimum of patriotism, and even if the words are not outright treason or betrayal, the sentiments of loyalty are also missing.  There is not even a hint of hoping to work with the United States to reform government policies, but instead an outspoken belief that it has “wicked designs” to impose upon “innocent peoples”.  This cannot be imagined to be patriotic language, and in the context of a campaign speech to Americans, the suggestion that we must go elsewhere for help is nothing less than disloyal to the sensibilities and common citizenship of the American people.  “The moral challenge for every devotee of a cause is to find the proper balance of loyalty and independent moral judgment” (35).  The cause of international justice may well be a valid one, but in the case of this candidate patriotism is lacking, the balance was not found, and the candidate stepped past loyalty.  

*Quotes taken from G.P. Fletcher, "Loyalty"*