needless to say, i am extremely opposed to universal pre-school. really i think they can get a standardized testing regime that extends from cradle to the grave: we can fully form every citizen's consciousness all day every day; that way we can compete with the chinese. you know, another way to represent universal pre-school would be this. tell me this is false: we are compelling you to surrender your toddlers to these government institutions for a certain portion of the day. it is precisely the sort of policy, for example, that religious schools practiced on indian reservations right through the 1950s; we have come to seize/retrain your children, or make them part of our culture. it was entirely a charitable project. however, unlike the indians, i believe, we will smile about it for the most part. for one thing, then parents can work longer hours. you will not even know that you are being compelled (though i think the toddler will be aware of it). and yet, read the law.
indian tribes eventually won the right to opt out of certain things; i guess they'll have to decide how 'universal pre-school' applies on reservations/nations. but few other sub-cultures (well, the amish, perhaps) could conceivably opt out. that is why each neighborhood ought to incorporate immediately as an independent nation in at least the indian/amish sense. then you could opt in if you like, and do your part to out-compete the finns.
remember what you thought about the characters in beasts of the southern wild? ok think about how they'd react to the fact that for their own good, we've come for your toddlers. one thing it is the death of: local knowledge, local centers of wisdom: it wants to make everyone the same, or we all have to have the same culture. that could be inspiring, i guess, but it is actually devoted to destroying all local cultures. and it rests on what i have to say is an arbitrary, artificial, historical contrivance: the basic cultural unit just has to be the nation state, because we are all americans. it is also almost the only culture that has to be, or that can be, actually enforced.
really obama is a pretty quintessential product of the 'meritocracy,' and one thing i'll say for such products: by and large they come out with the same opinions, expressed in the very same sentences. i don't think that this is because people with merit converge on the truth; i think they converge or coalesce into representatives of the institutions that produced them. there is less than no suspicion of power per se; something like that cannot even really be thematized by the time you've negotiated your way through harvard, with the jd/mba or whatever. one form of this is the cult of expertise that harvard just is: you keep deferring to the experts who have been created in these institutions, such as your profs, until you become one. that sounds good except it leaves you completely incapable of probing the assumptions of the discourse and institutions you're embedded in. you cannot rise unless you share these, and we inculcate them in you with every sentence for many years.
they cease to be aware of the power they are themselves exercising; they exercise it on behalf of the sheer facts uncovered by their expertise. it's the most basic things they are deploying that they can't defend because they can't be aware of them and be what or where they are. that is how they could just so effortlessly extend their sort of power - which is really them, disempowering you in quite concrete ways - right across the most intimate lives of people of every age: constantly building new, or building up existing structures of surveillance and information-control and consciousness-formation: it all flows perfectly through the rhetoric with no suspicion or even awareness of the fundamental character of their activities. it's all helping people or achieving prosperity. sometimes it might have these effects. but it is building and building the beast that will consume us, or might, at any rate, or is, bit by bit. it digests us slowly, until you don't even know you're ceasing to exist. the underside, where the power is applied, each person's or each family's or each hamlet's autonomy compromised more fully every day is just completely occluded. if foucault was around these days, he'd check out again.
see what i'm going to like about rand paul is that he will dip into this. he's not pushing everyone's interest in the sense that he's out here to preserve your benefits. he's pushing everyone's interest in the sense that he is still actually concerned with each person's liberty. that is what is worth holding onto in our tradition, but it is not even in the same universe as obama's rhetoric. (he might feel he has to wave around a disclaimer when he gets to guns, i guess.)
i have to say i kind of hate every bit of the state of the union. the pomp, the jockeying for handshakes, the laundry list: it's way too long to be some sort of meaningful single message, and it's way to short to do anything but wave vaguely at policies: 'i have a plan that will achieve as much medicare savings by the beginning of the next decade as the simpson-bowles plan.' you know, he delivered that with great passion. now it's back to 'we should do this right now, etc. i have to figure that reporters hate it; you have to cover it for days even though it is a completely staged non-event that never - never - makes actual news. and yet you have to say it's 'historic' etc. it has a certain power as a ritual or a tradition, however. i think they should read the constitution loud instead.
now on the other hand, here i am watching again. really it's a kinda twisted political life i lead: actively hostile and yet hypnotized or even obsessed. sad, really.