is a clear disjunction between a politicalrnclass “manipulating” the “ideologicalrnsymbols” connected to its dominancernand the same political class “embracing”rnthose symbols, hi my view, there is nornsuch disjunction.rnIt is not simply an accident of historyrnthat most members of the dominantrnelites in the Western world in this centuryrnhave “manipulated” the idea-systemrngenerally known as “liberalism.” Thosernideas clearly serve the interests of elitesrnseeking to enhance the power of a staternthey control, discredit the institutionsrnand codes of rival elites, and consolidaterntlie controlling elites’ dominance throughrnsocial engineering and therapeutic policy.rnAt the same time, I do not doubt thatrnthese elites and their members (whetherrnDick Armey or Alan Dershowitz) “reallyrnbelieve” in (i.e., “embrace”) the ideasrnthey espouse. To note that an elite has arnmaterial interest in “manipulating” anrnidea (i.e., invoking it as a defense of itsrnconduct) does not mean or imply thatrnthe elite does not also “really believe” inrnthe idea.rnI reject what seems to be an overly rationalisticrninterpretation which views humanrnbehavior as the obedient and consistentrnservant of the logical implicationsrnof various intellectual systems. I suspectrnthe process by which “ideas have consequences”rnis usually more akin to the psychologicalrndefense mechanism knownrnas “sublimation,” whereby an actorrncomes to believe in an idea not becausernof its own correspondence to reality or itsrnlogical coherence but because believingrnin it offers him some psychic or materialrnsatisfaction and because, through hisrnown socialization experience, he is culturallyrndisposed to believe in it.rnOne problem with the “rationalistic”rnview of ideas having consequences (classicallyrnstated by Richard Weaver in thernfirst chapter of his famous book) is that itrnoffers no explanation of why some ideasrnhave flourished while alternative ideasrnhave languished. In my view, the correspondencernof ideas to reality (their truth)rnand their logical coherence have far lessrnrelationship to their influence on humanrnbehavior than their usefulness for variousrnsocial and political forces that find somernideas more expedient for pushing theirrninterests and therefore more desirable tornembrace than others. This view does notrnimply that those ideas are any less ardentlyrnembraced, but it does suggest thatrnthe psychic and social usefulness, andrnnot the rationality and truth, of the ideasrnare the main determinants of whetherrnthey will be embraced.rnOn Education in TexasrnDavid Hartman’s comments about thernTexas Assessment of Academic Skillsrn(TAAS) tests are on the mark {CulturalrnRevolutions, February). It is a widespreadrnpractice for Texas teachers torn”teach the T.AS.” Depriving studentsrnof a broad-based liberal arts educationrnhas never been so common. Historyrnclasses are being downgraded to “socialrnstudies” status so that the popular, politicallyrncorrect ideology of the time can bernpromoted.rnI have been married for 15 years to arn21-year veteran educator in the EctorrnCounty Independent (a misnomer)rnSchool District. During that time, I havernwitnessed a steady decline in the moralernof teachers not only in my wife’s system,rnbut also in our own Midland Independentrn(ditto) School District. I attributernthis decline to the Texas EducationrnAgency’s bureaucratic preoccupationrnwith requiring ever more paperworkrnfrom teachers, who are already sufferingrnthe effects of the erosion of discipline inrnthe classroom. The liberal establishment’srnbelief in more accountabilityrnfrom teachers and less from students hasrncreated an almost unbearable situation.rnOnly those veterans who are near retirementrnstay on. Younger educators, for thernmost part, leave after three to five years,rnand not solely for economic reasons.rnI cannot comprehend why schoolrnboard members across the state submit tornthe whims of the TEA. This cancerousrnagency remains unchallenged by thernTexas legislature, locally elected schoolrnboard members, and their constituencies.rnNothing will change until economicrnconditions have driven several generationsrnof unemployable graduates to thernwelfare lines.rnThe state of public education today isrna result of the policies of self-serving educratsrnwho have implemented their liberalrnagenda across this country. The mostrntechnically advanced and industrializedrnnation in the world was built from a locallyrnbased educational system. Whyrnwas it scrapped? I believe that educationalrn”reform” was an effort to changernthe fundamental beliefs of Americans byrnfocusing on the “me first” mentality andrnthe promotion of class envy. It is difficultrnfor me to believe that the educrats’ motivationrnis a genuine concern for our children.rnAn uneducated, illiterate, dependentrnsociety is easier to manipulate thanrnan educated, literate, and independentrncitizenry.rnI agree with Mr. Hartman’s conclusionrnthat any effort to reform educationrnmust begin by returning control to thernlocal level. Allowing choice and competitionrnwould revive true excellence in thernclassroom.rn-].P.”Pat”McDanielrnMidland, TXrnI couldn’t help being amused by DavidrnHartman’s earnest account of a formerrnNew Zealand MP and cabinet minister,rnMaurice P. McTigue, telling Texansrnhow to run their school system.rnCanada has suffered a surfeit of Kiwirnexpertise. It seems to have started aboutrn1989 with another former New Zealandrncabinet minister. Sir Roger Douglas,rnwho was brought in by the spendaholicrnMulroney Conservatives to tell us thatrnwe needed a seven-percent federalrngoods-and-services tax on top of all thernother taxes which cripple the Canadianrneconomy. A few years later, this versatilernsage popped up in Alberta to tell us thatrnwe need a low-tax, low-spending governmentrnpolicy.rnFor a while afterward, Albertans couldrnnot get enough Kiwi advice. Hardly arnweek went by when either the provincialrngovernment or some special-interestrngroup did not import a New Zealanderrnto tell us that what the last New Zealanderrnhad told us to do was wrong. Eventually,rnhowever, the deluge from DownrnUnder dried up. Maybe we wentrnthrough all three-and-a-half million ofrntheir experts.rnMr. Hartman does not say how MinisterrnMcTigue came to address the conferencernin Texas. In Canada, we paid thernKiwis, either through special-interestgrouprngrant money or directiy throughrnour taxes. Since Mr. Hartman seems receptivernto advice from foreigners, let mernpass this on: You need not pay NewrnZealanders to come to your country torntell you how to run it any more than yournneed pay Jamaicans to come to yourrncountry to tell you that you are racist.rnThey will do it anyway.rn— Greg KleinrnCalgary, AlbertarnMAY 1999/5rnrnrn