Harrison Bergeron; Meet Berkley, CA
Often the most cutting and effective satire against the iniquity of progressive ideology comes from intelligent leftists who can no longer bear the stupidity they personally champion. George Orwell’s Animal Farm and 1984 are classic examples.
Kurt Vonnegut, a darling of the intellectual left for works such as Slapstick and Slaughterhouse Nine, also had his moment of cognitive dissonance. His short story Harrison Bergeron pillories the concept of equalitarianism and brilliantly demonstrates how it can lead to Left-Wing Fascism. Sociologist Ken Mentor describes the basic thesis below.
Harrison Bergeron is a tale of equality. Extreme equality. It is 2081 and everybody is equal. This equality is realized due to “the unceasing vigilance of agents of the United States Handicapper General” (Vonnegut 1988:7). Equality is maintained through the use of various handicapping devices. An individual with above average intelligence is forced to wear a “mental handicap radio” (Vonnegut 1988:7) at all times. This radio sends sharp noises intended to keep people “from taking unfair advantage of their brains” (Vonnegut 1988:7). Those with above average physical agility are forced to wear weighted “handicap bags.” The bags are intended to reduce an unusual and unacceptable amount of agility and grace. Individuals with attractive facial features are required to wear other “handicaps.” The handicaps are required “so that no one, seeing a free and graceful gesture or a pretty face, would feel like something the cat drug in” (Vonnegut 1988:8).
Harrison Bergeron is an exceptional individual. He is heavily handicapped as a result of actions of the Handicapper General. While wearing nearly every handicapping device available, he still has the drive to rise to the highest level his talents will take him. In Vonnegut’s story Harrison is severely sanctioned for efforts to rise to his potential.
On the surface, this seems the stuff of utter stupidity. Nobody would ever make Michael Jordan shoot his foul shots blind-folded or make Tom Brady throw passes with his weaker arm. Vonnegut himself intended to make his point through extreme exaggeration. He was telling us that equality could destroy individual creativity, uniqueness and any sense of true and legitimate diversity. And yet, we read today, an article that suggests that Science Fiction just has to exaggerate a lot more or it risks becoming passé juxtaposed against the vagaries of real life.
It seems Berkeley High School has a problem with achievement gaps. They need more resources to handle the needs of struggling students. In keeping with the proud progressive tradition of always advancing the cause of learning and civilization, they are firing five science teachers and closing out advanced laboratory sections because these courses are seen as benefitting white students. Details of this progressive, left-wing racism follow below.
The proposal to put the science-lab cuts on the table was approved recently by Berkeley High’s School Governance Council, a body of teachers, parents, and students who oversee a plan to change the structure of the high school to address Berkeley’s dismal racial achievement gap, where white students are doing far better than the state average while black and Latino students are doing worse.
Paul Gibson, an alternate parent representative on the School Governance Council, said that information presented at council meetings suggests that the science labs were largely classes for white students. He said the decision to consider cutting the labs in order to redirect resources to underperforming students was virtually unanimous.
Predictably, the science faculty has reactionary, Far-Right hang-ups over this wonderful master-stroke of alternative social justice. Mardi Sicular-Mertens spewed the dissembling propaganda rampant in the running-dog view of Wall Street Banksters and other unenlightened, class-exploiting Caucasoids below.
Science teachers were understandably horrified by the proposal. “The majority of the science department believes that this major policy decision affecting the entire student body, the faculty, and the community has been made without any notification, without a hearing,” said Mardi Sicular-Mertens, the senior member of Berkeley High School’s science department, at last week’s school board meeting.
Sincular-Mertens, who has taught science at BHS for 24 years, said the possible cuts will impact her black students as well. She says there are twelve African-American males in her AP classes and that her four environmental science classes are 17.5 percent African American and 13.9 percent Latino. “As teachers, we are greatly saddened at the thought of losing the opportunity to help all of our students master the skills they need to find satisfaction and success in their education,” she told the board.
As for the 17.5% African Americans and the 13.9% Latinos who studied in these science classes, they get the Daily Kos. (Screw ‘em. They’re mercs.) All properly enlightened Progressives understand the despicable nature of their race-treason. They acted white and turned their back on their proud heritage by reading science books and trying to front or something. When someone as enlightened as Howard Dean, Jesse Jackson or Barbara Boxer tells you your caste in The Great Society; you’d better frickin’ stay there!
It was Orwell who described the real purpose of Progressivism in 1984. In his fictional tract “The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism” by Emmanuel Goldstein, Orwell lays out the true goals of Progressive ideology.
Ignorance is Strength details the perpetual class struggle characteristic of human societies; beginning with the historical observation that societies always have hierarchically divided themselves into social classes and castes: the High (who rule); the Middle (who work for, and yearn to supplant the High), and the Low (whose goal is quotidian survival). Cyclically, the Middle deposed the High, by enlisting the Low, however, upon assuming power, the Middle (the new High class) they recast the Low into their usual servitude. In the event, the classes perpetually repeat the cycle, when the Middle class speak to the Low class of “justice” and of “human brotherhood” in aid of becoming the High class rulers.
In the twentieth century’s first half, the power-seeking Middle class dispensed with the pretence of pursuing justice for everyone: “In each variant of Socialism that appeared from about 1900 onwards the aim of establishing liberty and equality was more and more openly abandoned. The new movements which appeared in the middle years of the century . . . had the conscious aim of perpetuating unfreedom and inequality”; because the true goal was to end history upon becoming the perpetual High ruling class — composed not of aristocrats or plutocrats, but of “bureaucrats, scientists, technicians, trade-union organisers, publicity experts, sociologists, teachers, journalists and professional politicians” originally from “the salaried middle class and the upper grades of the working class”.
The moments are rare when progressivism shows us the hideous eloquence of its undying lust for domineering, tyrannical power. Berkeley High School’s decision to cut the science curriculum because it “serves only white people” is the perfect example of how progressives use ignorant populism and class envy. Their obvious goal is to enslave the general population in a perpetual state of ineluctable ignorance.
The people who made this gob-smacking ignorant decision come right out of the perverted corridors of power one reads about in the last few pages of Atlas Shrugged. It almost seems like the only thing Ayn Rand exaggerated in her novel are the terribly written episodes of primal sexual intercourse. The only thing more ridiculous than crazy Right-Wing critiques of liberals is how liberals behave once we foolishly elect them to power.
Cross-posted At…TEH MINORITY REPORT