Another Brick in the Wall (Kyklos, Violence, and Oppression)

Danielle, a good friend of mine, posted this George Carlin quote about education (the image is from “Knowledge of Today,” but I have no idea who owns the copyright on the quote or the photo itself. No infringement intended).

from "Knowledge of Today"

from “Knowledge of Today”

And I immediately thought of two things:

1) The industrial revolution, assembly-line origins of our American public school system. To vastly oversimplify, factory owners and big business owners favored and helped fund public education because they needed literate, competent workers. Critical thinking and independent analysis were not priorities.

2) Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2” video.

Well, I hadn’t watched that video in a long time, and I have to say, it’s still pretty shocking. It’s a terrible, unsanitized exploration of two types of human dysfunction (or, if you will, two kinds of human evil):

Dehumanizing institutionalization (fallen, twisted order)

Blind, rioting rage (fallen, twisted chaos)

It seems we so often rush from one unholy, inhumane extreme to the other (I’d argue that from a Christian perspective, any definition of “holy” that doesn’t massively overlap with “humane” is fatally flawed, but that’s a topic for another post).

The French kings, starting with Louis XIV, crushed the peasants financially and turned the nobility into pampered lapdogs. The French revolution slaughtered thousands, almost indiscriminately.

The Russian Tsars oppressed the weak and persecuted the Jews. The Communists killed tens of millions, erasing whole villages from the maps and the history books.

Plato and Polybius saw this in ancient Greece. They called it Kyklos, the cycle of oppression and revolution.

And in the video, the same children that were so ground down, so oppressed into banal sameness by that terrible school … devolved into the violent homogeneity of a riot, culminating with burning the school and dragging the hated teacher toward the bonfire to be burned alive.

This is our way as humans. We cast of the shackles of one evil, and run headlong into another. We burn down the palace and slaughter all inside, then cry out for the next strong man who promises order. And for him, we build an even bigger palace.

Things won’t get better just because we kill (or even jail or disgrace) the right people. Building up is harder, but it’s the only thing that works, long-term.

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