Η Εκπαίδευση στην υπηρεσία του προγραμματισμού.
Όσοι έχουν την υπομονή να διαβάσουν το αποκαλυπτικό αυτό κείμενο, θα διαπιστώσουν με έκπληξη ότι οι μεταβολές στο εκπαιδευτικό μας σύστημα, είναι προϊόν ενδελεχούς προγραμματισμού που ήδη έχει εφαρμοστεί πετυχημένα στην Σουηδία. Δεν πρέπει να μας διαφεύγει της προσοχής πως οι σοσιαλιστικές κυβερνήσεις της χώρας μας είχαν (και έχουν ίσως) στενούς δεσμούς με την Σουηδία.
ROLAND HUNTFORD: "The New Totalitarians"
11. Education in the Service of Conditioning
Social and economic security have been essential to the control of the populace. But they have never been considered ends in themselves. They were to prepare the ground for social engineers, giving them malleable human material with which to work. The ultimate aim is to create the new man for the new society and, among the agents of its achievement, education is obviously of crucial importance.
All education is a form of moulding the young according to the ideas of their elders. The character of the age, the nature of society and the ambitions of its rulers will naturally affect the specifications set forth. 'The study of liberal arts and of the philosophic sciences avail much in Christendom,' writes Humbert de Romans,* the medieval Dominican. 'It avails for the defence of the faith... it avails to the honour of the Church.' For Victorian England, Dr Arnold gave his celebrated definition of schooling as the production of 'a Christian, a gentleman and a scholar in that order'. Turning to Sweden in the last third of the twentieth century, we learn from Mr Olof Palme, the Prime Minister (and sometime Minister of Education), that, 'You don't go to school to achieve anything personally, but to learn how to function as members of a group'.**
For their intended society, the Swedish planners require a type of person that, thinking collectively, and suppressing
* Humbert de Romans (1194-1277) was the fifth Master-General of the Dominican Order. ** From an address to schoolchildren.
Education in the Service of Conditioning 205
his individuality in favour of the group, is technologically orientated, and socially well adjusted. To this end, the educational system was profoundly altered during the 1950s and 1960s. From imparting knowledge, its aim was changed to that of guiding social behaviour.
In Western countries, the very intimation of educational reform, even without ideological undertones, usually arouses ferocious opposition, and authority does not always get its way. But in Sweden it took less than five years from the adoption of policy to the recasting of schools and universities, new textbooks and all. There was some public discussion, but no substantial opposition. In Sweden, all education is rigidly centralized under government direction. It is a long tradition and a legacy of the Reformation.
Perhaps the most important change brought by the Swedish Reformation was in the educational system. In order to enforce Lutheran doctrine, and tear out Catholicism by the roots, teaching was minutely supervised. It was a means of controlling what was put into the minds of the population - and what was kept out. The original purpose has faded away, but the mechanism remains. It has really come into its own in the twentieth century, and only now is Sweden fully reaping the benefit.
During the Reformation, the schools were turned into a monopoly of the Church. Similar arrangements have existed elsewhere, but usually in a form that ensured independence
of the State. But in Sweden the clergy were the State. And centralization of a kind rare in contemporary Europe was enforced. The schools were removed from the jurisdiction of the local parishes and placed directly under the orders of the national ecclesiastical authorities in Stockholm. Curricula for the whole country were decided by a government committee; schoolmasters could only be appointed or dismissed by the central authorities in Stockholm. Since the Reformation, local divergences have been impossible, there
206 The New Totalitarians
has been uniformity throughout the land, and the State has prescribed exactly what every schoolchild was taught.
This system has been preserved down the centuries. When the Social Democrats decided to change the school system, they had the apparatus waiting. They were not obliged to fight local authorities; they did not have to indulge in the irksome task of imposing the writ of the central government. All education below university level was now directly and rigidly controlled by an elaborate central State institution, the Directorate of Schools in Stockholm, that had developed out of the uncomplicated old government committees to keep pace with the advancing complexity of modern administration and modern education. It was sufficient to make out the necessary administrative orders to impose the reform. The creation of the seventeenth century had stood the test of time.
The universities* were also rigorously subjected by the Reformers to the central authority. Like the schools, they were a Church monopoly. Academic freedom was never known in Sweden; the independence of universities was unwanted, because it would have impeded the control of thought. From the start, professors have been appointed directly by the government; curricula and even the detailed content of individual lectures were decided by ecclesiastical functionaries and State officials. This arrangement was never disturbed; in modern times, the only change has been the elimination of the Church as intermediary, and the substitution of direct State rule. Outside the dictatorships, there arce few countries in the world, and certainly none in Western Europe (not excepting even France), in which education is so uniform and so thoroughly subject to government control.
The Swedish school reform took the outward shape of a
* Until the middle of the seventeenth century, there was only one university at Uppsala. In 1669, the second Swedish university was established at Lund, in the south. Its chief purpose was to make good Swedes of the provinces then captured from Denmark.
Education in the Service of Conditioning 207
device to promote egalitarian principles. The old order divided children at an early age according to intelligence, ambition and, some would say, class. After six years of compulsory primary schooling, common to all, pupils were streamed. On the one hand were vocational training schools, on the other, the secondary schools which, being exclusively academic, had the greater prestige. Within the secondary school a distinction was further drawn between the three-year real division for those who did not propose to study further and, the apex of the whole system, the six-year gymnasium leading to matriculation and university. Entry to secondary school was selective. Children had to make their choice between the ages of eleven and thirteen.
Under the new system, all children stay together for nine years in the same basic school. Choice of subjects is allowed after seven years, when there is streaming into practical and theoretical lines. But this now takes place within the same school where it used to involve moving into separate institutions. Whereas before, children were separated at twelve or thirteen, social mixing is now guaranteed until sixteen, at least on paper. At the same time, the school-leaving age has been raised from fifteen to sixteen. After the basic school, there are vocational training institutes, and a new version of the gymnasium, leading to university. These are voluntary.
The new Swedish school has been derived from the American system, and resembles the comprehensive schools in England. The change was radical, abandoning as it did a time-honoured selective principle. It was defended by an official argument on the following lines. By putting all children into the same schools, the opportunities for everyone are increased, and nobody is penalized for making the wrong choice, or for failing to pass a selective examination at an early age. This explanation has been accepted by most Swedes, and the new school has therefore come into being with little resistance.
208 The New Totalitarians
There are two sides to every argument, and there is therefore a case to be made against the new system, at least in the case of bright children. It is reasonable to suggest that a selective school, ensuring a minimum level of attainment, will attract good teachers, providing a better environment and higher standards than one indiscriminately open to all. Parents may regard a new educational theory as not proven until it has stood the test of time. They may even be reluctant to let their children act as guinea pigs.
This has not been the case in Sweden. The ease of reform and the lack of resistance are in no small measure due to an almost complete lack of competition from private schools, and an absolute lack of alternatives. Private schools, all originating towards the end of the last century, are few, and will gradually be eliminated. But they never attempted to compete with the State system, only to provide the same teaching in more exclusive social surroundings. They wanted to follow the edicts of the State, the Church and the establishment. This is rather different from the English public schools which generally arose out of a determination not to submit to ecclesiastical monopoly.
Perhaps the chief advantage of the new Swedish system lies in the way teaching resources are fully exploited. The reform involves concentration into fewer and larger units. One large school can provide more facilities, and use money more efficiently, than several smaller ones. It can maintain laboratories and libraries of a size and quality difficult to justify in lesser institutions. With more pupils to choose from, it can offer a wider choice of subjects, and provide instruction in some that, for want of numbers or goodwill, might be denied elsewhere. In a school of 500 perhaps only half a dozen might want to study Russian, clearly too few to warrant classes. But among 1,500, the number would be rather higher, justifying instruction. Moreover, and this is a particularly important consideration in a small country like
Education in the Service of Conditioning 209
Sweden, where manpower of all kinds is at a premium, the system uses teachers more intensively, and therefore exploits them more economically.
Administratively, the new school system is also advantageous. In a large, sparsely populated country, such as Sweden, it has been irksome to service and supervise many small and scattered units. The village school, while the stuff of praise from nostalgic sentimentalists, is clearly indefensible in any other terms. By replacing a number of such schools with a single one, administration is simplified because it is concentrated. It is much easier to deal with a few large institutions than with many small ones. In Lapland, where population is five to the square mile, school inspectors and other administrators are saved a great deal of travel.
It is not only in the countryside that the comprehensive system offers such advantages. Even in the towns, by streamlining organization and, above all, by eliminating choice of school, it makes administration far easier. The reform, by promoting centralization, has followed official policy in other fields, particularly the reorganization of local government. It is part of a far-sighted plan to consolidate the powers of the central authorities and make their work easier.
So much for the practical aspects of the school reform. But that reform is, as it were, the forging or refurbishing of a tool. The purposes for which it is to be used are another matter entirely. From the mid nineteenth century until the early 1960s the Swedish school system was modelled on Imperial Germany. Its purpose was to turn out good civil servants devoted to the interests of the State. It set out to inculcate solid bourgeois attitudes and respect for a kind of stable hierarchical and authoritarian society whose form (but not nature) was inimical to the aims of the Social Democrats. Change was not only inevitable; it was politically necessary.
The most obvious requirement was to break down the old class structure in the name of equality and to attack bourgeois
210 The New Totalitarians
values. A neatly symbolic reform was the abolition of the so-called student examination, or matriculation. This was not so much an academic attainment as a mark of social class. Upon passing his examinations, the matriculant was entitled to wear a little white peaked cap, similar to the distinguishing headgear of members of the Imperial German student corps. Since higher education in Sweden used to be a privilege, the student cap became the symbol of the bourgeois and the official classes. With the spread of learning and the cultivation of the proletarian mystique, it was treated by men of the left as the hated badge of a despised class. A writer well known among the Swedes, Vilhelm Moberg, made his protest by refusing to don his cap. Others have done likewise. The last student caps were awarded in 1968. Their disappearance was widely billed as a blow for equality and a herald of change.
But these are clearly superficial messages. What are the underlying aims of the new Swedish schools system? Let one of its architects, Mr Sven Moberg,* deputy Minister of Education, explain: 'Education is one of the most important agents for changing society. It has been integrated into our scheme for changing society, and its purpose is to turn out the correct kind of person for the new society.
'The new school rejects individuality, and teaches children to collaborate with others. It rejects competition, and teaches cooperation. Children are taught to work in groups. They solve problems together; not alone. The basic idea is that they are considered primarily as members of society, and individuality is discouraged. We want to produce individuals who are integrated into society.'
This is how the Minister of Education, Mr Ingvar Carlsson, defines the purpose of schooling: 'It is to produce a well
* Quotations from Mr Moberg in this chapter, together with those of his superior, Mr Carlsson, are from private conversation. Where this is not the case, the source is given.
Education in the Service of Conditioning 211
adjusted, good member of society. It teaches people to respect the consensus, and not sabotage it.'
In the schools, the emphasis lies heavily on the collective and on the necessity of subjecting personalities to the demands of the group. Society is seen, not as a collection of individuals, but as a union of corporate organizations. One of the subjects taught in the upper classes of the secondary school is entitled 'popular organizations', explaining how they function and how to work within them. These organizations are presented as equal to the Diet, and as a branch of the State. 'Popular organizations' is a loaded term. It has come to mean 'Labour movement', and therefore schoolchildren have been induced to consider the movement as synonymous with the State. Comparisons with Soviet Russia, Mussolini's Italy or Falangist Spain are superfluous.
It is a truism that to change people it is desirable to cut off
the past. In the Swedish schools, the study of history has been
truncated and the emphasis laid on the development of the
Swedish Labour movement. The French Revolution is seen
as the beginning of things. Otherwise, the European heritage
and the classical background have been dismissed, and an
atmosphere created in which only recent decades appear to
count. 'Nothing matters before 1932'* cries a student of
political economy at Lund University. 'The young econo
mists,' says Professor Gunnar Myrdal, 'don't know anything
about history, and they don't care.' Of course, the anti-
historical bias of younger intellectuals is a universal pheno
menon, at least in the West. What is distinctive about Sweden
is that this bias is, if not exactly shared, at least encouraged and
exploited by authority.
It is, naturally enough, a Social Democratic aim to steer Sweden to the left. This is expressed in educational bias. A guide for teachers in the higher classes issued by the Schools Directorate suggests how social development may be * The year in which the Social Democrats came to power.
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illuminated by the consideration of authors during the past century. Those recommended are Michael Sholokov, Emile Zola, Richard Wright and militant American negro authors, and in Sweden 'the socially committed writers . . . Vilhelm Moberg, Harry Martinson and Ivar Lo-Johansson'. These last are the proletarian Swedish authors, all Social Democrats. The implication of the phrase 'the socially committed writers' is that only among the Social Democrats is social conscience to be found. To propose Sholokov, Zola and Wright as exclusive, and, by implication, approved examples of Russian, French and American literature, is to intimate a socialist interpretation of history. It is, of course, a perfectly valid one; under the Swedish system, it appears as the only valid one.
The power exercised by the central authority is profound and detailed, so that the State directs all education. The individual teacher has no independence, and is bound in his methods of instruction and the contents of his lessons by the exhaustive ukases of the Schools Directorate. Headmasters are, scholastically, supercargoes. They have no say over the conduct of teaching within their domain; that is decided in Stockholm. Their function is administrative; they are the agents of the Directorate, enforcing its orders.
Since the educational system is monolithic, control from the top is effortless. A small group of planners in the Directorate establish ideology and methods to be adopted by all teachers, The centre of power is therefore compact and easily controlled. And the teachers, for their part, follow their orders with little protest.
By ensuring that the leadership of the Schools Directorate is in their hands, the party has imposed its own ideas, without the approval of the Diet. The director-general at the time of the school reform, Mr Hans Lowbeer, was a militant Social Democratic ideologist; his successor was also a Social Democrat. In this way, party programmes and party slogans have
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rapidly been brought to the classroom, and incorporated into the body of established truth. Textbooks are severely controlled. They must be approved by a State commission, subordinate to the Directorate, and they may not be used without approval. The power of the Commission is absolute, and, in consequence, not only teachers, but their textbooks are also directed by the State. Official influence is secured even further by the practice of issuing authors with instructions to avoid criticism and rejection. It is known that approval will be almost certain if this guidance is followed, and to avoid discussion and change, publishers see that authors comply. In this way, the State ensures that schoolbooks are constructed to its specifications.
Centralized control of textbooks has been an invaluable aid to the enforcement of official policy and the undermining of incipient criticism. At one point, the Schools Directorate decided, against the wishes of many teachers and, indeed, the advice of some of their educational advisers, that language teaching should take place by the so-called 'direct method', that is, without translations, and solely through the medium of the foreign tongue concerned. To enforce the rescript, only those textbooks were approved that followed the system. The attitude of the government to textbook control was illustrated by Mr Palme, the Prime Minister, at the 1969 party congress. In a speech touching on the importance of ideology in education, and the necessity of eradicating reactionary tendencies from the schools, he quoted a passage from a certain textbook that displayed a non-socialist viewpoint. 'That book,' he said, 'had not been investigated by the
textbooks commission',* implying, justifiably, that if it had it would not have passed.
* At the time, the jurisdiction of the commission was confined to the nine-year basic school, and certain subjects in the gymnasium. It did not yet include political economy in the latter, whence the example was taken.
214 The New Totalitarians
It is party policy, and the urgent wish of Social Democratic ideologists, to make school textbooks a State monopoly. The reason given is that society has the sole right to decide what is taught to children, and that 'bourgeois' evaluations must be eliminated. Only by eliminating private interests can this be achieved. By 1970, the State had gone some way towards the realization of this ideal by nationalizing certain publishers, so that it controls about a third of the market at school, and a half at university level. Furthermore, a State publishing house was established, with the ultimate aim of dominating the field. The Minister of Education, in 1969, applied pressure on university staff and schoolteachers to write for the official publishers only.
By the definition of its creators, the new Swedish school system is strictly utilitarian. It suggests the abandonment of the concept of education as something that makes the complete man and develops the individual. It appears to have the aim of producing, not independent citizens, but cogs in the society-machine. This is how Mrs Maj Bossom-Nordboe, a departmental chief at the Directorate of Schools, expresses it: 'Everything in our school system is practical. History has been cut down, because subjects of practical application, and especially those dealing with communication, are more important. Classical studies have been abolished, because they are unpractical and therefore unnecessary.'
A comment of some interest on this development was published by a Mr Sven Delblanc in a Stockholm newspaper. The importance of Mr Delblanc is that, besides being a lecturer in the University of Lund in the history of literature, he is also a left-wing writer, and can therefore scarcely be accused of being a reactionary. Besides, he has held lecturing posts at American universities, and therefore brings something of the eye of an outsider.
'The literature of the Roman Golden Age,' writes Mr Delblanc, 'is interesting in many ways. For example, it
Education in the Service of Conditioning 215
illustrates how different poetic temperaments react to the State's demand that poetry shall have a certain political and propagandistic content. Nobody can possibly deny that such a phenomenon is devoid of topicality and interest. But in my teaching at university, I cannot expect my students to have more than the vaguest and dimmest ideas of who Augustus was and what he wanted.
'In the European political and cultural debate, the history of Rome from republic via military dictatorship to the Empire has been a classical paradigm. It has not only taught us something about the relation of the writer to the State, but also demonstrated economic and political patterns of development. It has even provided us with a terminology. Our youth are obviously to be prevented from learning where and how concepts like proletariat, imperialism and plebeian arose. Why? Is that knowledge politically dangerous?
'Scrapping historical knowledge deprives pupils of the instrument for criticizing society here and now. And perhaps that is the intended effect.'
Mrs Nordboe again: 'Perhaps something can be learned from the ancients. But it's not important. We've got to concentrate on society today, with the accent on practical matters such as sex, narcotics and poisons. This has a pedagogic effect of relating what we teach to reality: children learn in that way about their environment.
'Our school has to produce people predisposed to change. If they were not, they would be unhappy.
'It's the same with the question of the individual. It's useless to build up individuality, because unless people learned to adapt themselves to society, they would be unhappy. Liberty is not emphasized. Instead, we talk about the freedom to give up freedom. The accent is on the social function of children, and I will not deny that we emphasize the collective.'
The traditional class, with pupils working individually, has been largely replaced by group work. The purpose
216 The New Totalitarians
behind this, according to the official directions to teachers, is to teach children how to adapt to the collective and to show that an individual cannot accomplish much on his own. 'By assigning a project to a group/ according to these directions, 'and requiring pupils to divide the task among themselves, they can be taught the satisfaction of bringing their contributions to the collective, and grow used to the conditions they will meet when they go to work.'
Reflection of life outside, school is obsessed with the question of eliminating the non-conformist and the man away from the crowd. To remain outside the group, is the sin against the Holy Ghost, and immense pains are taken to round up the independent and the unwilling. Personal initiative is not encouraged, unless it benefits the collective. Individualism is not admired. 'It may happen that the occasional pupil will want to withdraw from the group and work on his own,' says the preamble to the curriculum for the higher classes of the Swedish schools, 'This may naturally be allowed. But it is often possible to make the individual's task part of the group's project.'
In a junior civics course, there are two sections entitled 'People who are Different' and 'To Nurse and to Help'. They are not, as their titles might imply, designed to encourage admiration for individualists, or to teach personal charity (in the Greek sense), but to point out the necessity of togetherness as the only tenable way of life, and to hold up the State as the omniscient provider. Distress, children are taught, is relieved by the authorities, and social welfare looks after anybody in trouble. It is only necessary to call on some official agency, and the need of the moment will be dealt with. You are not your brother's keeper, the message seems to be, but the State is.
Individual attainment is disparaged; it is proficiency within the group that is favoured. The Swedish schools aim at pro-during citizens who will devote their talents to the service of
Education in the Service of Conditioning 217
the collective. The attributes officially honoured are not a sharp wit or scholastic ability, but a will to cooperate and adapt to a group. Competition has been abolished. The wish to excel is considered undesirable and asocial. This is, of course, in stark contrast to, say, the English public school system, where the team spirit is supposed to be drummed in on the playing fields, but suspended in the classroom. The fact that the swot has been despised in England (or grind in America) has never vitiated official approval of the good scholar and the scholarship boy. And, at a totally different point of the compass, competition reigns mercilessly. A Russian educational official on tour in Sweden was shocked at the Swedish system, and lectured schoolchildren in Stockholm on the necessity of contest in learning as the only way to efficiency.
There is general antipathy towards the individual in educational work, although it may be concealed in words suggesting the opposite. Instructions issued by the Directorate of Schools declare that teaching must be adjusted to the individual, but not so much for the sake of his personal development as to absorb him more efficiently into the collective. Put another way, individualized teaching is suggested as a device to encourage group thinking in the most efficient manner. Rigid teaching, assuming that all pupils are exactly the same in all respects, defeats its own purpose by creating outsiders and, what is worse, rebels. Adaptation of
methods, say the educational authorities, can bring everybody, or nearly everybody, into the collective. In one sense, the school system has not changed; it has only done old things better. Uniformity of opinion has ever been the achievement of Swedish education; it is simply that the identity of that opinion has changed. In the late 1950s, conventional nationalism, with a tinge of nostalgia for the age when Sweden was a great power, was still the lesson imparted to schoolchildren. A decade later, this had swung over to a
218 The New Totalitarians
guided internationalism, expressed as solidarity with the underdeveloped countries. It is an illustration of the powers held by the central authorities in directing what is to be taught. The Directorate of Schools decreed this particular ideological shift, and it was obediently enforced. Schoolchildren and school-leavers all over the country displayed the same homogeneity of opinion as they had always done, and it was at the bidding of the State.
It was also at the bidding of the party. At the time, the Social Democratic party had decided that interest in the underdeveloped countries and support through technical assistance were politically profitable. The interval between their adoption as party policy and their enforcement in the school curricula was a few months. This was easily done, since the Directorate of Schools was run by Social Democrats and, because it is completely independent of parliamentary control, the party could have its say unobstructed. It is only one of many instances in which items on the party programme have rapidly become educational policy.
By the late 1960s, most teenagers (and younger voters) supported aid to the underdeveloped countries,* as they had been taught at school. This makes an interesting comparison with England or America, where attitudes among corresponding groups are generally those of indifference with minority groups that are fiercely hostile or in favour. But the younger Swedes are uniformly and overwhelmingly in favour of overseas technical aid, with a degree of emotionalism that may surprise the outsider. This is closely related to neutrality. 'Neutrality,' says a professor at Uppsala University, 'is like cutting off a piece of the personality, and to make up for it we have to find some ways of extending our feelings of responsibility - it's an urge peculiar to Sweden. That explains the obsession with the underdeveloped countries.
*In 1970-71, Sweden spent 800,000,000 kronor (£65,000,000 $154,000,000), 0.41 per cent of the Gross National Product, on aid.
Education in the Service of Conditioning 219
It is an approach to the world outside. By identifying ourselves with a unit larger than Sweden, we can satisfy a need for significance.'
It is probably correct to say that Sweden has been de-christianized more efficiently than any other country, Russia not excepted. Among non-communist countries, Sweden is unique in deliberately encouraging the process. It has been accomplished by a form of instruction, labelled 'religious' but which is in fact anti-religious. The course, which starts in the upper forms of the secondary school, sets out to review the different forms of religion in the world, and places Christianity on a level with all other faiths, and with no faith at all. Religion, in this course, is presented as an escape from reality.
'Marxism's criticism of religion, based on Feuerbach,' says the syllabus for religious knowledge in the gymnasium, 'ought also to be treated. In order to make Marx's views comprehensible his dialectic view of evolution, as it appears in the materialistic interpretation of history, must be clarified. If possible, texts from modern Marxism-Leninism ought to be analysed.
'It is also desirable to touch on psychology's view of religion as a compulsive neurosis with infantile characteristics. The relationship between the Marxist and psycho-analytical viewpoints can thereby be illustrated.' In a sense, this is probably more efficient than the Russians' concentrated attack on religion which can more easily be shown up as propaganda. By reducing the importance of Christianity, but still teaching it, no question of prejudice arises, and the appearance of 'objectivity', one of the tenets of the new school, is maintained. In this way, Christianity is taught not as a faith, but as a phenomenon, and the idea of religious experience and religious emotion may be dismissed. Since this course is compulsory, with the only exception made for Jews in the part concerning Christianity, the school
220 The New Totalitarians
has a means of counteracting religious instruction in the home. Those leaving school at the end of the 1960s were predominantly anti-Christian, considering religion as indefensible and ridiculous. The concept of religion as a form of mental illness was prevalent. Since the instruction had largely been given in the form of discussions so guided that the pupils felt that they had themselves arrived at the conclusions, conviction was deep. It is interesting to note the similarity between this and the study circle ABF; and, indeed, the architects of the new school system freely admit that they have been influenced by the methods of the Labour movement.
"While most Swedes are indifferent to Christianity, it is doubtful whether a Diet majority could have been mustered in support of anti-religious teaching of this kind. It is not at all certain that the Social Democratic party was wholly in favour. But it so happened that the party leaders and ideologists had decided and were able to influence the Directorate of Schools accordingly.
If religion has been reduced to political theory, political concepts have been elevated to religious rank. In the senior course in 'Religious knowledge', there is a section on 'Ethical and moral questions'. 'Instruction in moral questions is intended to give pupils insight and understanding of the place and function of morality in the life of the individual and society,' says the syllabus issued by the Directorate of Schools, 'Suitable areas to deal with are the ethics of home and work,
'When the ethics of employment are dealt with, one can take up questions which, on the one hand, affect the relations between workmates and, on the other, between employers and employees. In the case of the former, there is, for example, the question of taking work and earning at the cost of your workmates against the possibility of sharing opportunities; further, the advisability of belonging to a trade union. The morality that has been developed in our country through the regulation of relations between employers and, employees
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also belongs here. For example, there is the LO's principle of solidarity between high and low paid groups, solidarity with the country's economic situation in wage demands, and respect for wage agreements.'
This is an illustration of the way in which political slogans are turned into classroom dogma. What are basically Labour movement, or at least trade-union, concepts, are taught as if they were received truths. The Swedish Labour Market is here given the same treatment as the Song of Songs and the Sermon on the Mount. Ideologically loaded words, with a partisan impact, are present on a level with the Gospel. Party catchwords, by being presented as 'religious knowledge', are given an authoritative touch.' The advisability of belonging to trade unions' is a precept of the Labour movement and, by teaching it at school as the Eleventh Commandment, the idea of the closed shop is given the sanction of moral compulsion. 'Solidarity' was a slogan of the Labour movement, and by no stretch of the imagination could it be associated with any other political camp. ' Solidarity between high and low paid groups' was at the time a Social Democratic electoral slogan, not a principle enforced by national consensus, and of doubtful success into the bargain. Likewise, 'Equality' was uniquely the clarion call of the Social Democrats. But both it and the word 'solidarity' occur liberally in textbooks and teachers' manuals. 'Equality and solidarity are important goals,' says the official syllabus for the senior classes of the Swedish schools, 'and ought to be imprinted, inter alia, by school activities.'
Similarly, equality of the sexes, once it had been adopted as party policy by the Social Democrats, was placed on the school curriculum. This helped in no small measure to secure rapid and national acceptance for the idea. At an early age, conventional ideas of male and female roles were broken down. Boys were taught to sew, and girls to wield hammer and chisel. Equality was taken to its logical conclusion. It was
222 The New Totalitarians
pointed out that there is no reason why a father cannot stay at home to look after the family while the mother goes out to work. At all events, children were persuaded that both can and must work. This was to eradicate the traditional attitude of women that their business was to catch a breadwinner and avoid gainful employment. It was also to destroy the customary belief that a woman's place is looking after a family and substitute the idea that her proper duty is by the man's side, in office and factory.
Schoolwork was reinforced by radio and TV. What was dubbed 'sex-role discrimination' was officially banned from children's programmes; instead, the message of absolute equality (apart, naturally, from the purely anatomical) was enforced. The press loyally followed suit, so that the adult population was also informed. The interval between the adoption of equality of the sexes on the party programme and its enforcement in the school curriculum and the mass media was about three months.
One of the purposes in predisposing women to go to work was plainly economic. 'It is being an enemy of society, to have a training and not to work,' declared a lady from the Labour Market Directorate. 'All those in production have to pay for it. Sweden is a little country, and needs all its labour force out in production. Women can't expect to be privileged by staying at home.'
Economic common sense suggests that as many women as possible must go to work. But there are other reasons as well. Educational theorists want to get both parents out of the home, so that children are forced out as well. The family bond is to be weakened, and children brought up in creches and day nurseries. Compulsory pre-school training will be established by the middle of the 1970s.
Mr Ingvar Carlsson, the Social Democratic Minister of Education, has said that pre-school training is essential to 'eliminate the social heritage'. By this, he means that progress
Education in the Service of Conditioning 223
at school depended on home influence and that, by eradicating it, everybody would have an equal start, and could be guided into the appropriate occupations required by society. It would utilize national talent more efficiently, by bringing out abilities obscured by unfavourable home environment. What he was particularly thinking of was the anti-intellectual bias of working-class homes, which deprived many educational institutions of people who had the necessary abilities. But the main function of pre-school training was social. 'It is necessary to socialize children at an early age,' says Mr Carlsson. 'In pre-school play groups of the future, children must be taken outside the home to learn how society works. They will develop the social function of human beings, and teach children how to be together. They have to learn solidarity with each other, and how to cooperate, not compete with each other.'
Ideally, the Swedish government would have liked to introduce compulsory pre-school training from the age of three years, following the discovery of a commission of inquiry that it was easiest to influence behaviour at that age. This could not, however, be realized immediately, since it was considered that the economy would be over-strained by so explosive an expansion of the educational system. A starting age of five was therefore accepted as a temporary expedient. In 1970, the training of kindergarten teachers and play leaders was augmented so that their supply will be guaranteed when the scheme is introduced by about 1975. Research was being conducted by State institutions to devise teaching methods that would best accomplish the goals adumbrated by Mr Carlsson.
The school age in Sweden remains at seven years. Preschool training is to concentrate on the formation of social behaviour, so that the correct attitudes will have been imprinted before the child begins his scholastic education. In a word, the aim is to produce socially well-adjusted people,
224 The New Totalitarians
with a collective mentality. Uniformity will be guaranteed by making pre-school training a State monopoly. It has been officially announced that no private institutions will be tolerated. By the middle of the 1980s, it is expected that compulsory pre-schooling will have been extended to three-year-olds.
These are radical plans being speedily effected. It might be supposed that, as in all matters of educational reform, opposition and debate would have arisen. But, by and large, Sweden has accepted the development. Most parents now earnestly believe that their children must be 'socialized' early. Again, they think in the way they have been told to, even the middle classes, and particularly the intellectuals. A journalist (politically in the centre) says in deadly earnest: 'Of course, I want my children to go to properly organized play groups. They've got to learn to become part of the collective. Individualism is unhealthy, isn't it?' And this is what a manufacturer, a man who had built up his own firm, an old-fashioned kind of entrepreneur, had to say:
'Of course, the trend of Swedish education is to break down individuality and promote the collective. I suppose I should be sorry. You can't build up a company as I have done without being an individual. But that's all over and done with now. I don't want my children and grandchildren to be taught to be individuals. They'd only be unhappy. So, I say, let the rising generation be trained for the collective. They'll be much happier. So, when one of my sons complained about the collective, and talked about being an individual, I slapped him down, and sided with the school. And I hope that the in new kindergarten will do their job properly with my grandchildren. Sweden is a collective society, and there's no place for the individual. Much better for all concerned if we bring up citizens adjusted from childhood to the collective.'
The intellectual purpose of education, in the definition of the Swedish school system, is to 'develop an independent and
Education in the Service of Conditioning 225
critical way of thinking'. In fact, this is Newspeak for group thought. And it must be the correct group, with approved ideas. Pupils are not taught to maintain their personal opinions, but to stick to a consensus. The words 'independent' and 'critical' turn out to mean not what they appear to mean, but a shift from older accepted views to new ones. It is connected with another aim of the new Swedish school, which is defined by the curriculum as the eradication of authoritarian attitudes.
At first glance, this is flying in the face of everything upon which Swedish society is founded. The stability of the Labour Market is built on absolute obedience to trade-union leaders. This has been made possible by a school system which, in imitation of Imperial Germany, has inculcated respect for superiors and acceptance of hierarchical structure. The disappearance of these attitudes might be expected to cause unrest.
The situation is not what it appears to be. Behind the terminology of egalitarianism and advanced educational theory, the authorities were concerned to maintain old discipline in new forms. They had understood that traditional ideas were not only useless, but productive of rebellion in the new ideological climate. The 1968 students' revolt in France proved them right; by party foresight, Sweden escaped virtually scot-free from that contagion. What unrest there was, was turned by the government to their own advantage. Let Mr Carlsson explain it in his own words:
'The purpose of the new school is to break down respect for authority and build a sense of cooperation. The old system would have broken down anyway and a substitute had to be found. This meant that we had to encourage collective attitudes.
'The new school has been based on lessons learned from the trade unions. They have built up a system which depended on information and respect for your negotiating partners. This
226 The New Totalitarians
meant that you had to respect your employer and talk to him, using rational arguments.
'Now, this is mirrored in the schools, and therefore their products would fit very well into the trade unions. Of course, the development of the schools is going to affect industry. Influence in running the schools would result in demands for more say in the running of factories.'
A leader of the LO thought that the new school system would help his organization: 'It will encourage the pursuit of more democracy in industry. It will produce dissatisfaction with authoritarian forms of management.'
When schoolchildren are taught to question 'authority', the word is equated with teachers, employers and parents. They are asked to reject the old masters of society and respect new ones instead. Going out to work, young people have attitudes tailormade for the Labour Market: antipathy towards their employers, and respect for union leaders. They have been conditioned to resent a certain form of authority, but not to question authority per se.
As part of their 'independent and critical thinking', schoolchildren must learn how to resist 'propaganda' and 'the mass media'. But this resistance, it turns out, is rather selective. Advertising, public relations and the newspapers are taught as the principal objects of scepticism and inquiry; the businessman and the private communicator are held up for suspicion. The institutions of the State and the corporate organizations, however, are honourably excepted. The business executive is made suspect, but not the bureaucrat. The official communicators are left unquestioned. In this way, there is a form of conditioning in which children are led to question private advertising, but to accept State propaganda, Indoctrination pivots on the concept of society. As long as something is presented under the label of 'society', it is good; if not, it is bad.
Schooling, in the words of a frequently quoted Swedish
Education in the Service of Conditioning 227
cliche, has to teach people 'to function in their environment'. This means that the average pupil and the dullard have to be pushed and pulled a little in order to fit in. Mutatis mutandis, the brainy and ambitious ones tend to want to influence the environment, and the schools therefore have started turning out people predominantly disposed to social engineering. The wish to be a planner of some kind, a sociologist or an economist, has become increasingly common.
The Swedish schools are therefore turning out two kinds of person. There is the submissive average man, who has learned to accept his circumstances, motivated by a kind of fatalism, in a world arranged by economic determinism. On the other hand, there is the elite, ambitious of commanding its subordinates and of deliberately manipulating the environment in which they live. Both believe in the supremacy of the group, and both are animated by a collective mentality. Neither gives promise of individual thought or action.
The new curriculum has, on the admission of its designers, departed from the idea of imparting fundamental knowledge. Its purpose is not to develop the intellectual faculties, but to create desirable social attitudes. In the senior classes leading to higher education, the academic virtues have been self-con-fessedly abandoned, and the emphasis laid on political and civic instruction. The study of grammar has been abandoned, for example, but a subject termed 'welfare theory', which is an ideological justification of the Welfare State, has been given considerable prominence. There is a heavy sociological bias throughout: it is the practical subjects of use to society that are in favour.
University teachers complain of a drop in academic standards. Returning to Mr Delblanc: 'It is an illusion,' he writes, 'to believe that one can expect a university student to meet the elementary requirements of reading foreign texts. It is possible that those leaving the new school can, as package tourists, converse with waiters and hall porters. But, further
228 The New Totalitarians
than that, their knowledge of languages is practically invisible. Put simply, they know neither German nor French. They think that they can speak English, but in reality they cannot even do that.'
So far, this sort of reproach is to be heard in most countries in most ages. Academics are prone to bewail the decadence of their students. Sweden, however, has been distinguished by a sudden change of undergraduate mentality. Mr Delblanc again:
'What then has the new gymnasium given instead? The only advance I can detect is a new mentality. It is a useful impertinence, wish to debate and mistrust of authorities. Unfortunately, this new liberation is expressed more often in the form of watching over their own interests as a student body, a kind of trade-union mentality, than in a broad criticism of society and its established institutions. Student criticism is directed towards the form of education, the form of lessons and examinations, but further than this it rarely gets. Shining exceptions confirm the rule; the much vaunted anti-authoritarian teaching creates, not critics of society, but coming trade-union bosses.'
Anti-authoritarianism, in the Swedish educationists' sense of the word, means a rejection of the individual leader, but submission to the dictates of the group. It produces, as Mr Delblanc suggests, the perfect corporate man in his various manifestations, and the mentality of the apparatchik. As all those concerned with education admit, these achievements demonstrably accompanied the denigration of the individual and the glorification of the collective imprinted by the Swedish school system. It is quite conceivable that the educational theorists who originally propounded the scheme had other ends in mind, but, as it turns out, the results achieve I serve the intentions of the managers of Swedish society very well.
Corporate man may be desirable, but he must possess the
Education in the Service of Conditioning 229
correct tendencies if he is to be of use to his society. A conservative is clearly unwanted in the Swedish world. So, indeed, is anybody with a particular creed and independent and steadfast views, be he of the right or the left. What is required, as the architects and administrators of Swedish education so ingenuously announce, is people predisposed to change. Not change of a particular nature, but change for its own sake.
In the attainment of these goals, great care has been devoted to severing intellectual roots. The general curtailment of history has been one method. Within this, there has been included the more refined concept of cutting Swedish links with Western Europe. Whatever the public justifications for such a step, the consequence has turned out to be a cultural vacuum, and it is in such a state that mass conditioning is really effective. It may be said to be a necessary requirement. To achieve this end, a kind of perverted Toynbeeism has been invoked.
Arnold Toynbee's A Study of History has been one of the great tracts for our times, at least in the English-speaking world. Its message - that the West ought to renounce ego-centricity and, by paying more attention to other cultures, put itself in perspective - appeals to the age of uncertainty. But Toynbee speaks as a man of the West. Admittedly he betrays a whiff of ambivalence, but the sense of his life's work is that he wants to provide a cure for the ills of the civilization into which he was born. There lurks behind his writing a pride in the power and achievement of the West; he has been one of the articulate few to praise the European bourgeoisie, 'the most powerful and inventive class that the world has ever seen'. To use him, as many do, in order to discredit the West is scarcely defensible. He wanted the West to imbibe a sense of proportion; from that to the repudiation of Western culture is a long step. Unfortunately, what Toynbee presented as critical analysis has been interpreted as abuse, and it is this misconception that has been widely adopted as the message.
230 The New Totalitarians
Toynbee, like Savonarola, searched for a regeneration, but his name has too often come to stand for an anathema, of a society. If true Toynbeeism is an appeal for a soul-searching of the West, the false kind preaches its rejection. It is in this perverted form that Toynbeeism has taken root in Sweden.
'In teaching,' says the preamble to the curriculum for the Swedish school system, 'it is desirable to desert a Western European perspective.' This applies to all possible subjects, but to current affairs and history particularly. In the public justification, this has the laudable aim of eradicating nationalism and encouraging global solidarity. But the effect is to generate a kind of inverted chauvinism. Africa and Asia appear as more important than the West. Western values, even the admirable ones, are disparaged. Mrs Camilla Odhnoff, Minister of Family Affairs, replies, on being asked whether she is a European: 'How can I associate myself with the West, when children are being murdered in Vietnam'? Mr Olof Palme answers the same question by saying, 'I don't see anything special about Florence, or Paris or Rome. I feel more at home in Prague and Warsaw and Sofia; they're just as important. The Renaissance So-called? Western culture? What does it mean to us?' The voice of a liberal publisher: 'I don't feel anything in common with Western Europe. But I do feel a deep sympathy with Russia. Russian literature tells you why. Authors like Chekhov and Tolstoy write about the same thing that we (Swedes) are concerned with. It is the problem of a man fitting into the world.' A conservative university professor says that, although he likes visiting the Continent, it is to him very foreign, and he is glad to return home.
By and large, the educated older Swedes passively regard Western Europe as something alien, to which a small number may regretfully wish they belonged; younger people display an actively hostile attitude. This has largely been achieved by
Education in the Service of Conditioning 231
school instruction that the only European accomplishment has been to exploit other continents, so that the sins of the West have been visited on its virtues. By association, all Western European values have been made suspect, and what otherwise would be a politically awkward heritage has been discredited. Of this, the most vital are the questioning of fundamentals, the concern for the individual and the genuine suspicion of authority as an institution.
The attack on the West has been supported by the mass media, most particularly school radio and T v. As mentioned before, it has been made respectable in the interests of international equity, and the atonement for European sins. But it has not widened Swedish horizons, it has merely shifted them. By diverting attention to other quarters of the globe, and inducing a specious glow of solidarity with faraway peoples, it has deepened Swedish isolationism by cutting links with Continental neighbours. Trade and economics have been no antidote. The expansion of Swedish trade with Western Europe, and a resultant commercial interdependence, have not been accompanied by an intellectual approach to the Continent; but rather the reverse. These developments have not gone unnoticed by the outside world. A French diplomat taunted a Swede in Brussels when Sweden made her halfhearted approach to the Common Market, by saying: 'You would make such good Asians or Africans. Why are you such bad Europeans?'
In reality, the Swedes are merely reverting to type. It was not much more than a hundred years ago that European culture was introduced into the broad stream of Swedish education. And Strindberg was the first exponent of that culture. He remained the only one. After a short honeymoon with the West, Swedish writers turned their backs on it, and pursued a path of national introspection leavened with some mimicry of Russian and American models. By cutting adrift from Western Europe, the Swedish rulers are not so much
232 The New Totalitarians
making a bold step into the. future, as fathering a relapse into their past.
Nevertheless, it may be asked why the change occurred so swiftly and painlessly. Toynbeeism, it may be argued, while by now a perfectly respectable creed, has nevertheless not triumphed elsewhere in the West, and is still the subject of controversy. It has not yet informed a whole educational system in other countries. But in Sweden it has (albeit in a twisted form) conquered without hindrance. There has, after all, been considerable admiration of the various forms of "Western culture among Swedes. Old gentlemen display yet misty eyes at the thought of Goethe, Schiller and Heine; Balzac and Victor Hugo have their distinguished worshippers among academics. Less than fifteen years ago, it was assumed and taught that Sweden was an adjunct of the West, and that the West was the best of all possible worlds. All that is now past. Pseudo Toynbeeism has triumphed, and a nation appears to have turned a collective mental somersault at the crack of some intellectual whip.
But it was only to be expected. The change came because it was decreed. Once the educational leaders had decided that Toynbeeism was to be adopted, it was. The few teachers who had doubts remained silent. But most genuinely accepted the new consensus. It would have been a social solecism and personal betrayal not to have done so.
With this in mind, it appears superfluous of Mrs Alva Myrdal to say that 'We won't get our new school until the old generation of teachers disappears, and the new one takes over.' At all events, student teachers at the end of the 1960s after the new school had been in action for five years, had the required attitudes. They conformed, with few exceptions, to what the school authorities required. Moreover, the academic staff of the various institutes of education had also conformed to the new order of things, the government's wishes were being carried out, and there was little criticism and no depar-
Education in the Service of Conditioning 233
ture from the line of accepted truth. It had become virtually-impossible to obtain an appointment in the training of teachers, without, if not the correct party membership card, at least the correct opinions. As Mr Ingvar Carlsson said on one occasion:* 'School is the spearhead of Socialism.' One need not take the ideological noun too seriously. He was only saying the obvious: that in Sweden the teaching profession is, as it has always been, wholly in the service of the State, not merely in its pay.
Enclosed in their isolation, plunged into an intellectual vacuum, the younger Swedes have begun to show all the signs of indoctrination, or at least new patterns of behaviour. Among the products of the new school, fantasy has declined. This is on the admission of officials: some of them welcome the development, because they see fantasy as subversive and undesirable. 'We must avoid the encouragement,' says an official teaching guide, 'of young people's imagination.' Scientific research has suffered; originality has been suppressed. The head of a chemical research institution in Stockholm says that his younger workers seem devoid of personal initiative. They are afraid of rising above the level of the group. If somebody produces a new result, he appears unwilling to proceed on his own. He will ask his chief for directions as to what to do next. And the work is generally poor and unimaginative.
In other words, the same effects have appeared in Sweden as in Soviet Russia and the kibbutzes of Israel. It is perfectly feasible to mould children into socially well adjusted creatures, and good members of the collective, but at the cost of originality and initiative. This has already begun to perturb Soviet educationists and to exercise public debate because, if engineers are deficient in inventiveness, then economic progress is threatened. It has become apparent in the Soviet Union that, in the final analysis, it is not the number of technological
* In a speech to schoolchildren.
234 The New Totalitarians
graduates that counts, nor even the quality of their degrees, but the nature of their mental processes. The Swedes appear neither to have considered this eventuality themselves, nor to have concerned themselves with the examples just quoted. Their general view is well stated by Mr Ake Isling, who is the director of education of the TCO and a member of the ruling cadres of the Labour movement.
'We haven't considered the question,' he says, 'because it's hypothetical. I'm quite prepared to admit that there may be something in it, but it doesn't concern Sweden, at least not in its present stage of development. We are not interested in inventions, we want application. The great original advances are made abroad, and we need to be able to exploit them. We want technologists, and we want them in certain numbers. Provided we expand our educational facilities enough, we will get what we need. We need technologists, not original scientists. We've got to have people who can give society what it orders.'
The last sentence expresses another aim of Swedish education. Taking the more precise definition of Mr Moberg, it is 'to supply the Labour Market with what it requires'. That, and the avowed wish to mould a new kind of person are the twin goals of the system, school and university alike.
A select government committee has been working since early 1971 to make all education exclusively vocational. The Schools Directorate, the universities, and the Labour Market Directorate were represented. There was no clash of interests; all three agreed on the aim. They were not, however, concerned with implementing general policy (which had already been imposed), but rather with the eradication of troublesome details. For example, there was felt to be an irregularity in the continued existence at the universities of what were termed 'luxury subjects'. They were those with no obviously vocational connotation, such as certain courses on philosophy, history of art and classical languages and litera-
Education in the Service of Conditioning 235
ture. These were pruned, in the face of an existing demand, in the pursuit of a strictly utilitarian goal. It was the removal of blemishes from the system.
The Swedish method is a refinement of an exclusively vocational approach to education. One way of preventing the disqualification of school leavers from earning a living is to provide vocational training more or less haphazardly, in the hope that, given the supply, there will always, somehow, be an answering demand. Optimism of that kind lies not in the nature of the Swede. The educational system is being so adapted that the supply of various accomplishments can be varied according to future demand. Of course, the success of this aim depends on reliable crystal-gazing and an acceptable method of guiding vocational choice. As far as the first condition is concerned, Sweden is well provided with economic forecasting institutions and the planning powers of the government (sometimes) ensure that their prophecies are fulfilled. And in the second place, the centralized direction of all education allows for co-ordinated guidance of vocational choice.
It is in vocational matters that the comprehensive system has been found to be so efficient. With their children of each district gathered into one single establishment it is easy to guide and choose. A child is not condemned at an early stage to this or that form of education. It gives opportunity to all, and makes efficient use of educational raw material. Vocational guidance is mandatory, and there are specialists in most schools. The top of the tree is the academic secondary school, leading to university. In Sweden it is voluntary and selective. Entry is granted on a system of points, decided by examinations at the previous level. The necessary points are varied from year to year, according to the supply of places. When vacancies are too few, the points go up, and conversely. These points are relative; that is to say, they represent the standing of pupils in relation to their class. By adjusting the minimum values for entry to the gymnasium, the successful
236 The New Totalitarians
proportion of applicants can be nationally established, and the number of entrants adjusted. Two aspects of this system are worth noticing. In the first place, there is no longer any question of passing or failing an exam. What used to be called a pass is no guarantee of matriculation; with the stigma of failing removed, what remains are low points. As long as the examination is completed, a pupil is deemed to have completed his studies. Secondly, to get into a higher school, he must rise above a certain level of attainment. But, since the measure is relative, it is advantageous to be in a class with a poor average ability, because it is the hindmost pupils, whatever their ability, who are discarded. Those who do not make the grade are shunted off to vocational training, if they had not beforehand been persuaded to move over of their own free will. Thus, the comprehensive school, in the right hands, can be an efficient and relatively painless mechanism for sorting the young and making the best use of the available raw material.
As with the schools, so with the universities. Entry into the most desirable, and therefore restricted, professional faculties, such as medicine, engineering and psychology, is regulated in much the same way as that to the gymnasium. And, in higher education, an implacable centralized administration exists as well.
The Swedish universities are ruled by a centralized government office, the Office of the University Chancellor. It has absolute power over the universities, and academic independence is unknown. The universities are run directly by the State: it is the way that the politicians want it. 'Academic independence,' says Mr Moberg, 'is incompatible with a modern educational system. The aims of the universities are set by society and, since society produces the economic support, it has the right and duty to direct their activities. Universities must fit into their allotted place in the general educational system.'
Education in the Service of Conditioning 237
There is a radical difference between the treatment of the faculties in Western universities, and in Sweden. In the former, the academic staff is the ruler, and the administration (theoretically at all events) is their servant. But in the Swedish system, the administration is considered the ruler, and the professorial staff its subordinates. The administration is not, as in an English or American university, an organization running an independent body, but a branch of the civil service.
Professors are directly appointed by the government, and their own universities have no say in their selection. The Chancellor's Office in Stockholm prepares the nominations, and the Cabinet confirms the choice. The Chancellor, a high civil servant equivalent in rank and power to a director general, is the ruler of the Swedish universities. His is a political appointment, ensuring that in its own turn the professorial incumbents possess views consistent with those of the government. This is vital in those chairs concerned with the formation and direction of society, notably education, economics, sociology and political science. It is interesting to observe that those reaching the top in these faculties all possess, or at least profess, a uniform Weltanschauung, compatible with that of the Labour movement.
Lacking all autonomy, the universities are thoroughly subject to the State. Professors alone are chosen by the government, but lecturers are in the gift of the University Chancellor's Office. That office, indeed, arranges, as of right, the detailed running of all universities. Direction is not confined to staff appointments. Budgets, grants and the steering of research He within the absolute jurisdiction of the office. All curricula, examinations and the very content of lectures are decided there.
Central direction is obviously conducive to efficiency. In the view of Swedish educational officials, it is clearly a waste of resources for different universities to teach the same subjects in different ways. This would mean, they say, that students
238 The New Totalitarian
might prefer one university to the other, simply because of a particularly academic style, whereas it is much more rational to ensure that courses in the same subject are identical in content and approach, so that entrants could be distributed among the various establishments without prejudice. Ideally, it ought to be possible to transfer from one university to the other without noticing the difference. In practice, this may not yet be literally true, but the authorities are pursuing the goal with great tenacity.
All institutions of higher learning in Sweden are no more than branches of a single establishment, directed from outside. This applies no less to the ancient universities of Uppsala and Lund, than to the modern institutions in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Umea. The Chancellor's Office has enforced uniformity of curricula and teaching. 'It would be foolish,' says Mr Hans Lowbeer, the University Chancellor at the time of the reforms at the end of the 1960s, 'to allow any variation. Because what would happen if you had two graduates, let us say from Gothenburg and Stockholm, who had had such different teaching that they had no common ground? How could they talk to each other? And that is the situation on the Labour Market.'
The most serious objection to the independence of the universities in the Swedish view is that it allows them to decide what to teach. Instruction has been designed to produce graduates in the image of the system. Economics, to take one example, is so taught as to present the Swedish mixed economy as the only acceptable norm. In the 1960s, as official doctrine moved towards greater State control, so did university teaching follow. It is interesting to observe that the Swedish system was presented as lying before a watershed, on the other side of which lay the capitalist world. There seemed less difference, in this presentation, between Sweden and the Communist countries than between Sweden and the West.
Education in the Service of Conditioning 239
Teaching acquired a distinct Marxist colouring. There was a good example in the first-year economics course at Stockholm University for the academic year 1970-71. The part on the United States prescribed as textbook, The Age of Imperialism, by the Marxist author, Harry Magdorff. The course was clearly tendentious, aimed at denigrating the whole American system. To a lesser degree, the rest of the Western world was similarly treated. But the main object was to present dollar imperialism as the gravest of contemporary dangers, which happened to be party, and to a certain extent government opinion as well.
The conversion of Swedish education to an exclusively vocational system guided by the State has necessitated thorough-going and complicated changes in the universities. A technological society requires not only technologists. As the Swedes discovered a long time ago, these are not even necessarily in the majority for the proper functioning of a modern State. Equally necessary are teachers, economists, administrators, sociologists, planners; in short, all the social engineers without whom a modern society cannot be directed. In the middle of the 1960s, then, the Swedish university system was reformed in order to supply the specialists required.
The faculty of Arts, which in, Sweden includes all subjects not taught at technical universities, and which in the past was a school for bureaucrats, used to allow considerable variation in studying. As is the case with most universities in the West, one proceeded from the general to the particular: in other words, the freshman started off by embracing a number of subjects, and specialized as he approached graduation. The Swedes have turned this scheme on its head. Swedish students now have to specialize in their first year in order to prepare themselves for a profession recognized by the Labour Market Directorate.
It would be too much to suppose that even the meticulous
240 The New Totalitarians
Swedes could match every occupation with a university course. Apart from anything else, this would have extended the choice, instead of narrowing it, which was the object of the reform. Instead, the recognized occupations were arranged in the seventeen main groups of the official Labour Market Directorate system of classification, corresponding to which there were seventeen permissible combinations of courses. Studies are what is known as goal-directed; that is, they are chosen not to satisfy the desires of the student, but to fulfil the requirements of some more or less realistic end. To take a few examples. Studying history in the first year necessarily implies that teaching has been chosen as a profession; no other possibility is admitted, because the Chancellor's Office and the Labour Market have decided that no other occupation needs that subject. Subsequent years' curricula are automatically adjusted to that assumption. Or, consider the course designated in all Swedish universities as No. 6 (uniformity extends to the minutest details). It starts with Economics, Law and Statistics, and produces two specialists much required by the State for Swedish society: the economist and the community planner.
Ideally, students would be deprived of their freedom of choice, and so distributed, after suitable testing, among the courses of study, that the supply of occupations was adjusted to the demand. In practice, the Swedish authorities have gone some way to achieving the same ends by a system of pressures without overt compulsion. In the first place, the pattern of the courses itself makes automatically for a general channelling from beginning to end. In the nature of things, interests generally narrow with time, even in the compressed space of the average university sojourn. Normally, if a student shows a disposition to shift studies, he does so in his early terms, concentrating later on something that absorbs his interest, or that is forced upon him by the necessity of satisfying the examiners. If he is compelled to specialize as a freshman, he
Education in the Service of Conditioning 241
will tend to continue in the groove thus allotted, for the narrowing tendency will apply in his case as well. Moreover, a student forced to select his studies according to a closely defined future profession will feel constricted and even fearful as a result of the act of commitment. He is unlikely to spread his interests as he advances in his university career, even though the authorities do permit greater choice in later terms.
But other, more obvious, pressures have been added to the system. Since Swedish universities have become rigorously and exclusively vocational, it is logical that vocational guidance has in turn been made compulsory. It is, in fact, combined with study guidance, but the dividing line is obscure. All students must have their courses approved by a director of studies, without whose permission a change of course is impossible. Since that approval is not lightly given, a first-year choice is almost certainly irrevocable. By tuning such persuasions to the suggestions of the Labour Market Directorate, national planning is helped. Intimate consultation between the Directorate and the universities ensures that guidance conforms to State policy.
The concept of education as a civilizing influence has been dropped. It is now considered exclusively as a practical device in the service of a technologically dominated society. The authorities openly, and indeed with some pride, admit that their institutions of learning are to be considered as educational factories. Production is their only concern, and quantity their only standard of judgement. Quoting Mr Moberg again: 'Our concern is to promote economic efficiency.' And it is in this way that resources are being exploited from kindergarten up. 'We have to spread education,' says Mr Moberg. 'We used to favour the clever children, and gave too little stimulus to the average. Consequently, there has been a wastage, which we now have to rectify.'
It has become official policy that encouragement of extraordinary talent is wasteful, since it concentrates too much
242 The New Totalitarians
effort on too few people. The energy spent on helping one bright child has less effect, economically, than if it were distributed among several average pupils. The approved aim is to extract the untouched reservoirs of ability among the ordinary mass of schoolchildren. In practice, teachers neglect brighter children, to concentrate on the less gifted. And there is a school of thought in the Schools Directorate that has canvassed the idea of actively handicapping the talented pupils in the interests of equality. It is generally conceded by teachers and educational officials alike that the Swedish system is devised for the child of average ability, and the clever one is penalized. 'A clever child will always manage on its own' is the usual justifying formula.
This would be verging on the suicidal for any society which set store by originality. But it is perfectly understandable in a society, like that of Sweden, where it is the obedient administrator and interpreter of other men's discoveries who is required. In the terminology of Brave New World, it is the Beta Pluses, possibly the Alphas, that are wanted, but decidedly not the Alpha Pluses.
Besides the sheer economic reasons for the university reform and the limitation of courses, there were equally important social ones. Mr Moberg again: 'The expansion of education, and the rising demand for graduates was certain to bring to the universities a new kind of student. He would come from the lower middle classes, with a new social background, and without a tradition of study at home. Lef to himself, he would be likely to become confused and frustrated, and liable to revolt.'
This shows some foresight. Mr Moberg is describing here the very private reasoning of the Swedish educational reformers when they were formulating their plans in the late 1940s and 1950s. It was almost two decades before the epidemic of student unrest and the French 'events' of May 1968 That was a time, it will be recalled, when undergraduates
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were a singularly docile body, intent only on taking degrees, and letting off steam, when necessary, by the politically innocuous methods of womanizing or drinking.
By being forced to specialize early, students would then be spared the primary confusion of uncertainty and the necessity of making up their minds themselves. Moreover, it was supposed that, by an insistence on the vocational nature of university, and by playing on the obsession with security, or rather fears of its future loss, the new students would be more amenable to guidance and direction. And so they were.
This was one reason why, during the troubles of 1968, the Swedish universities got off so lightly. There was some unrest among sociology students in Stockholm, but this must be attributable, not so much to indigenous motivation, as to mimicry of foreign models. On one occasion, the Swedish TV broadcast a lengthy and romanticized programme on the day's rioting among students in Paris. Approximately two hours later, students were on the rampage in the streets of Stockholm with war cries and hastily contrived banners that were obviously copied from the sounds and images they had absorbed from the little screen so short a time before.
There has been no lasting unrest, with the exception perhaps of consistent new left agitation in sociology and education faculties. Starting with a militant core in 1968, sociology students at Stockholm University were converted wholesale to a neo-Marxist way of thought. Marxists acquired control of the student representative bodies. It became necessary to toe the party line in order to avoid unpleasantness. Anybody who elected to ignore the Castroesque style of dress accepted as the norm at the sociology institute was boycotted as an undesirable and a reactionary. The atmosphere was so strained that students with moderate tastes in dress (and opinions) felt obliged to leave for other lines of study.
Perhaps unrest is an inappropriate description of what happened. The new left did not want disruption so much as
244 The New Totalitarian
change. They were supported by most of the academic staff, for the emergence of a radical student body coincided with a change of generation among their teachers that brought Marxism in its train. The agitation caused (or accompanied) the abandonment of the orthodox American sociology previously imported, and the rejection of what was termed 'official Western' teaching. Instead, a more radical learning was embraced, and extreme left-wing textbooks dominated. It is unclear how far all this is heretical, and how far approved by the authorities. At least it is not inconsistent with Social Democratic aims of moving to the left. And, by desisting from suppression of the movement, the government confirmed a policy of exploiting radical student activities for its own ends.
In research, control of the universities and the institution of rigorous financial measures have given the State a well-nigh absolute hold on all activities. A small committee, reporting directly to the Prime Minister, decides on research policy in all fields, and related agencies, notably the University Chancellor's Office, administer it in detail. Each single project must be centrally approved before it can be started in a public institution, and all financial grants are likewise centrally made. Small schemes are discouraged, and large ones favoured, the effect, if not the intention, being to simplify management by reducing numbers. This promotes the governmental direction of virtually all research. So urgent is this power considered to be that university research workers have been required to reject all foreign grants for activities within Sweden, in order to close loopholes in supervision. Under certain condition exceptions may be made, but only with the permission of the central authorities.
This very possibly sounds like news from Utopia. One of the problems in the complex labyrinth of modern research is how to distribute resources and exploit facilities. Duplication is only the most obvious waste that can be avoided by
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centralized direction. And the Swedes have truly managed to realize at least that Utopian goal. Their State directs all research of any significance. Private institutes are nonexistent, and private industry, concerned mainly with the improvement of production, does not compete. But even there, communications with the government are such that official desires are generally honoured.
Since the government is in complete control, the shape of Swedish research suggests something of government intentions. To start with, pure research has been all but eliminated, the applied kind being the only variety approved. This holds both for the natural and for the political sciences. "Work concerned with the advance of technology has been restricted in favour of sociological and educational research, which deals with the control of people. This is perfectly sensible. Technology has run away from human institutions, and to make proper use of what we have requires a compensating advance in the latter. It is not new technological discoveries that are wanted, but new sociological ones. New ways of running a population are required, in order to apply the benefits of science and industry.
Scientific prediction is a field which the prudent ruler ought to control. It is manifestly awkward if expert opinion contradicts official policy, for that casts doubt upon governmental credibility. Conversely, convenient oracles confer the added force of doing something so that, in the biblical phrase, 'it may be fulfilled'. Not surprisingly, therefore, the Swedish government has taken steps to harness futurology. When the Swedish Academy of Engineering proposed to establish a futurological institute, the government demurred, because that would have meant the appearance of an independent body. Instead, an official commission of inquiry was appointed in 1971 to study the development of futurology in Sweden. Its terms of reference suggested that State direction was the ultimate goal.
246 The New Totalitarians
A comment on the commission by Mr Olof Palme indicates that the Swedish government regards futurology not so much as prediction as manipulation. 'Foreign projects,' he said when the commission on futurology was established, 'are directed by military and industrial interests.* It is quite natural, therefore, that studies of the future are influenced by the special wishes of those who give the orders.' Mr Palme was not interested in doing away with direction, but with seeing that it was in the right hands. He wanted neither foreign influence in Swedish futurology, nor domestic competition, but State control. Indeed, it has for some time been a Social Democratic dictum that research of all kind must be subordinated to the political goals established by the government. Exactly the same thing was propounded by Mr Leonid Brezhnev, secretary of the Russian Communist party, at the 24th Party Congress in 1971.
It may seem odd that a democratically elected Swedish government should share with a despotic Russian regime the aim of curtailing the independence of scientists. What is even odder, is that there has been virtually no public protest. Scientists may occasionally murmur in private, but they prefer not to voice their reservations publicly. The little criticism that makes its way into the open comes from the left, and is concerned, not with intellectual independence, but with the identity of the commissars. From that point of view, what is wrong in Sweden is not that research is directed, but that it is the capitalists, rather than the people, who do the directing. One is left with the impression that intellectual independence is not quite understood. Indeed, the lack of public outcry against the constraints upon research in Sweden
* Referring to American institutions, notably 'think tanks' on the lines of the Rand corporation. This was not spelled out, however. Innuendo plays an important part in the Swedish political armoury, and rightly so; it can be much more powerful, by appealing to the faculty of suggestion, than saying things directly.
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is reminiscent of the Spanish Inquisition. During the almost four centuries that that peculiar institution existed, virtually no native criticism appeared, clandestinely or otherwise, to the discomfort of those who have tried to prove that it did not enjoy overwhelming popular support.
A pattern discernible in Swedish economic, political and sociological research suggests that only those projects are permitted that further the aims of the government and the programme of the party. Pedagogical research concentrates on the conditioning of children to act and think collectively; a great deal of work has been carried out in preparation for compulsory pre-school training. Sociological research tends towards a Pavlovian behaviourism and, in general, the means of altering people by the use of environment.
Someone engaged in criminological research once proposed - and came within a hair's breadth of having accepted - an experiment in brain-washing. Selected prisoners would be kept on short rations, always fed by a particular warder, in order to establish an intimate contact. Then, by increasing meals, a kind of dependence would be built up, giving the warder a mental hold on the prisoner, and rehabilitation carried out by suggestion. The point about this is that the director of the State prisons approved the experiment, but it was stopped at the last moment for fear of the immediate political consequences. There were no ethical reservations; it was assumed that, when public opinion was ripe, the attempt would be made. Sometimes research, or at least scholarship, may be used for relatively crude political purposes. In the middle of the 1960s, it became imperative for the Swedish government, then exploiting anti-Americanism, to dissociate itself from, or explain away, subservience to American pressures during the Cold War, notably in following export embargoes to the Communist bloc. A well-known party intellectual, Dr Gunnar Adler-Karlsson, was, therefore, permitted to do a
248 The New Totalitarians
doctoral thesis on the ineffectuality of economic embargoes in general, and this one in particular. He was given a State grant to do so and, furthermore, was patently given access to State papers and Cabinet minutes not available to the public. In his dissertation, he proved, on his own evidence, that the Swedish government had been subject to American pressure, which seemed to exonerate Sweden. By presenting the case in the form of an academic thesis, the credibility of an official State Paper was achieved, without the necessity of having to take official responsibility. There is some evidence that Adler-Karlsson's work had the desired public effect.
Education and research, then, have been harnessed to the needs of the State and the party. In the overwhelming majority of cases, people accept the system. Students follow vocational direction and submit to the regimentation of the universities. Admittedly, the vision of the planner sometimes falters. Too many students fail because of defective schooling; the production of graduates acquires an unintentional lopsidedness so that, for instance, there was a threat of a glut of teachers at the end of the 1960s. The important thing is, however, that most academics have made their submission. Some may grumble; others may busy themselves along the path of the apparatchik; a few pretend to the correct political opinions in the furtherance of their career. There is acquiescence all along the line.
Education and research in Sweden, then, are consistent to a remarkable degree. They show that when government and party say that education is to be used to change society, it is no idle chatter. To sum up, the Swedish educational system has been recast to serve the new society. It discounts individuality and seeks to produce socially well adjusted people with a collective way of thinking. It has broken up old patterns of loyalty and, instead of accepting teachers, parents and the old ruling class of individual rich men and industrialists, the new Swede submits to a collective ruled by autocratic cliques. It
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discourages originality and independence, and encourages a willingness to serve the interests of the State. Students allow themselves to be streamed and classified, to staff occupations prescribed by authority. Not the advancement of knowledge, but the manipulation of society is the highest of aims. Not the technological, but the social engineer has become the most desirable of occupations. And above all, it is society, the group, the collective that holds sway.
'Technology,' says Mr Moberg, 'demands the collective. People feel that they lose too much if they develop their own individuality.' There is no reason to doubt his words, at least in Sweden. But education is only one means of conditioning to the collective: we now turn to another, and equally persuasive instrument.