Jag har tidigare refererat till ett långt stycke där Isaiah Berlin behandlar utbildning och skola. Det gör han tyvärr på väldigt få ställen, men nu har jag i alla fall hittat ytterligare ett. Likt brevet till George Kennan handlar följande passage om vad som skiljer västerländska demokratier från totalitära staterna.
This violent contrast emerges most clearly in the conception of education: Western education since the earliest times has consisted in teaching men the techniques of answering for themselves the questions which most tormented men – what to be, what to do, how to treat others, what to seek above all other things.
Much blood has been shed by the schools of thought and religions advocating different ways of seeking replies to these questions. But even those most despotic in practice have paid at least lip-service to the idea that men must be so taught as to want to seek the right ends freely, because they believed in them and not because they were socially or morally conditioned into believing nothing else.
But the task of a Communist educator is not to supply knowledge and develop the faculty of assessing critically, but principally that of Stalin’s engineer – of so adjusting the individual that he should only ask those questions the answers to which are readily accessible, that he shall grow up in such a way that he would naturally fit into his society with minimum friction. History decrees how the society must behave if it is not to be destroyed. Only those are happy who are not self-destructive. There is, therefore, only one nostrum for happiness and this the ‘social engineer’ applies in creating those human arts or limbs and organs of which the ‘progressive’ social mechanism or organism must consist.
Curiosity for its own sake, the spirit of independent individual enquiry, the desire to create or contemplate beautiful things for their own sake, to find out truth for its own sake, to pursue ends because they are what they are and satisfy some deep desire of our nature, are henceforth damned because they may increase the differences between men, because they may not conduce to harmonious development of a monolithic society.