The Voluntary Slaves of William James and His Dream of Mandatory Youth Service

By Brannon S. Howse

Parents and grandparents, if your children or grandchildren are taken captive by the brainchild of William James, you cannot say I didn’t warn you. You can see from the excerpts below from “The Moral Equivalent of War” just how expert James is at his “play with words” that captivate the unaware: 

All these beliefs of mine put me firmly into the anti-military party. But I do not believe that peace either ought to be or will be permanent on this globe, unless the states, pacifically organized, preserve some of the old elements of army-discipline. A permanently successful peace-economy cannot be a simple pleasure-economy. In the more or less socialistic future toward which mankind seems drifting we must still subject ourselves collectively to those severities which answer to our real position upon this only partly hospitable globe. We must make new energies and hardihoods continue the manliness to which the military mind so faithfully clings. Martial virtues must be the enduring cement; intrepidity, contempt of softness, surrender of private interest, obedience to command, must still remain the rock upon which states are built…

In other words, James hates the military but thinks his liberal friends can learn from the techniques armies use to build a cohesive group that rejects individual interests in deference to collective interests. He is also building the case for collectivism, the abandonment of individual property rights, and the redistribution of wealth. James continues: 

If now—and this is my idea—there were, instead of military conscription, a conscription of the whole youthful population to form for a certain number of years a part of the army enlisted against Nature…

By "nature" James is speaking of what he sees as man's natural tendencies toward the evil virtues of self-interest, self-preservation and independence instead of the collective good, or, as Karl Marx said, "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need." 

James sees mandatory service as a way for America's youth to "get the childishness knocked out of them." What I see, however, is a system that seeks to dumb everyone down to the same level and to brainwash them into socialism and anti-Christian bigotry. James suggests the forms of desirable service: 

…to dishwashing, clotheswashing, and windowwashing, to road-building and tunnel-making, to foundries and stoke-holes, and to the frames of skyscrapers, would our gilded youths be drafted off, according to their choice, to get the childishness knocked out of them, and to come back into society with healthier sympathies and soberer ideas. They would have paid their blood-tax, done their own part in the immemorial human warfare against nature; they would tread the earth more proudly, the women would value them more highly, they would be better fathers and teachers of the following generation.

James proclaims that it is only a matter of time and skillful propaganda before the American people buy into his social justice:  

But I have no serious doubt that the ordinary prides and shames of social man, once developed to a certain intensity, are capable of organizing such a moral equivalent as I have sketched, or some other just as effective for preserving manliness of type. It is but a question of time, of skillful propagandism, and of opinion-making men seizing historic opportunities.

Liberals can always claim they oppose injustice and cruelty, but no matter how pure their motives, socialism always ends in dehumanization. Human value is reduced to the level of whether individuals are productive or unproductive resources. James finally reveals his bottom-line belief that individuals are nothing more than human capital to be owned and controlled by the State for its own purposes:

We should be owned, as soldiers are by the army, and our pride would rise accordingly. We could be poor, then, without humiliation, as army officers now are. The only thing needed henceforward is to inflame the civic temper as past history has inflamed the military temper. H. G. Wells, as usual, sees the centre of the situation. "In many ways," he says, "military organization is the most peaceful of activities. When the contemporary man steps from the street, of clamorous insincere advertisement, push, adulteration, underselling and intermittent employment into the barrack-yard, he steps on to a higher social plane, into an atmosphere of service and cooperation and of infinitely more honorable emulations. Here at least men are not flung out of employment to degenerate because there is no immediate work for them to do. They are fed for better services. Here at least a man is supposed to win promotion by self-forgetfulness and not by self-seeking.

James also reveals an inexcusable ignorance of the benefits and good works wrought through free-market capitalism. Like most pencil-pushing, wind-bag professors, James never spent a single day building a company, producing a product, or making a payroll. Yet, he dares tell us how working for the government instead of for yourself and your family is the higher calling. Such ignorant dribble reminds me of another college professor who never engaged in any free-market enterprise but called for America’s youth to "go through the government to go to college and then go back into government." Professor Barack Obama declared, "Individual salvation depends on collective salvation." 

Chief of staff to now-President Obama, Rahm Emanuel wrote The Plan: Big Ideas for America in 2006. His book calls for three months of compulsory, mandatory civil service for ages from 18 to 25. Wasting no time implementing his Machiavellian agenda, Obama signed into law "The Generations Invigorating Volunteerism in Education Act" (GIVE Act) in April 2009. 


Voluntary Slaves


The program is voluntary so far, but I believe the proverbial nose of the camel is well inside the tent. Obama’s intentions have been clear since long before his election. The Obama Administration would like to make the volunteerism bill mandatory, as stated on the Obama-Biden campaign website in 2008: 

Obama will call on citizens of all ages to serve America, by developing a plan to require 50 hours of community service in middle school and high school and 100 hours of community service in college every year.


Thankfully, the outrage was so great, the campaign removed the word “mandatory” from the website description.  But “mandatory” is their goal, and future legislation is being created to accomplish that end. Meanwhile, even if service is not mandatory, many Americans are liable to give their children over to this government re-education program, lured by the promise of government money for education. 


Within the provisions of the GIVE Act, not all volunteer activities are created equal. The statute forbids program participants from being involved in ministry or church work. The legislation states:


They cannot engage in religious instruction, conducting worship services, providing instruction as part of a program that includes mandatory religious instruction or worship, constructing or operating facilities devoted to religious instruction or worship, maintaining facilities primarily or inherently devoted to religious instruction or worship or engage in any form of religious proselytization.


Obama’s commitment to what he calls "Universal Voluntary Public Service" is not new. In 1992, Mr. Obama was a founding board member of Pubic Allies, and Michelle Obama became executive director of the Chicago chapter of Public Allies in 1993. According the Public Allies website:


President-elect Obama has trained several classes of Allies in community organizing, spoken at Public Allies Chicago events, and helped Senator Durbin secure an appropriation from the Department of Justice that successfully helped us better recruit and retain young men of color for our Chicago program and learn practices we are applying nationally.


An article in the The Chronicle of Philanthropy explains that Michelle Obama went looking for Have-Nots to pit against Haves as encouraged by her husband's mentor, Saul Alinsky(chapter 20): 


In looking for potential leaders, Public Allies still uses techniques that Ms. Obama pioneered in Chicago. Paul Schmitz, the group's chief executive—who worked with Ms. Obama after he started a Public Allies program in Milwaukee in 1994—recalled that she looked for leaders in unconventional places, like in the city's poorest neighborhoods.

"In her first class, she had a Harvard graduate, she had a Northwestern [University] graduate," he said. "But she also had people who'd been incarcerated, she had women on welfare, people who'd been homeless, who'd been in gangs."


And lest you think this is the agenda only of the Democrats, Republicans, too, have been pushing the Williams James agenda. Public Allies boasts of its non-partisan support and partnerships:


In 1992, President George H.W. Bush identified Public Allies as a model for national service and funded our pilot program. Under President Clinton, we grew from a pilot to a national program, and under President George W. Bush, we more than doubled in size and were contracted to provide training and technical assistance to other grantees of the Corporation for National and Community Service.

The September 4, 2008 issue of Investor's Business Daily ran an editorial entitled "Michelle's Boot Camp for Radicals" which revealed:


Big Brother had nothing on the Obamas. They plan to herd American youth into government-funded reeducation camps where they'll be brainwashed into thinking America is a racist, oppressive place in need of "social change."

But its [Public Allies] real mission is to radicalize American youth and use them to bring about "social change" through threats, pressure, tension and confrontation — the tactics used by the father of community organizing, Saul "The Red" Alinsky.

"Our alumni are more than twice as likely as 18-34 year olds to . . . engage in protest activities," Public Allies boasts in a document found with its tax filings. It has already deployed an army of 2,200 community organizers like Obama to agitate for "justice" and "equality" in his hometown of Chicago and other U.S. cities, including Cincinnati, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, New York, Phoenix, Pittsburgh and Washington. "I get to practice being an activist," and get paid for it, gushed Cincinnati recruit Amy Vincent.

When they're not protesting, they're staffing AIDS clinics, handing out condoms, bailing criminals out of jail and helping illegal aliens and the homeless obtain food stamps and other welfare.

Public Allies brags that more than 80% of graduates have continued working in nonprofit or government jobs. It's training the "next generation of nonprofit leaders"—future "social entrepreneurs."

"It was too touchy-feely," said Nelly Nieblas, 29, of the 2005 Los Angeles class. "It's a lot of talk about race, a lot of talk about sexism, a lot of talk about homophobia, talk about -isms and phobias."

On the Public Allies website, I found an expanded testimony of Nelly Nieblas, and sadly, she did not reject the worldview training. I believe she was emotionally and psychologically manipulated to reject her initial disgust and ultimately accept the organization’s political correctness.  

She  [Nieblas] recalls changing her mind about Public Allies after participating in an exercise that was designed to show that some people face life with built-in advantages while others are less privileged. Participants were asked to take one step backward for each disadvantage they had experienced if, for example, their refrigerator had ever been empty while they were growing up. "By the end of the whole exercise I was hitting the wall," she says. "I broke down crying." Ms. Nieblas says the exercise forced her to recognize that her identity was something deeper than her résumé—which included a college degree and a yearlong political fellowship in Washington.

One of those -isms is "heterosexism," which a Public Allies training seminar in Chicago describes as a negative byproduct of "capitalism, white supremacy, patriarchy and male-dominated privilege."

The Investor's Business Daily article concludes by stating that the Obamas (like Williams James) hate the military yet want a military-style boot camp to indoctrinate an army of radicals: 

The government now funds about half of Public Allies' expenses through Clinton's AmeriCorps. Obama wants to fully fund it and expand it into a national program that some see costing $500 billion. "We've got to have a civilian national security force that's just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded" as the military, he said.

The gall of it: The Obamas want to create a boot camp for radicals who hate the military —and stick American taxpayers with the bill.

Mandatory volunteerism has a generational goal as well as the immediate plan to control American youth. It is looking for future leaders for the socialist, utopian regime. The GIVE Act includes funding for selected students to go on to an intensive training program conducted by Alinsky-like organizations, such as Public Allies(see chapter 20). This training lasts several months, and those involved are provided with healthcare, a stipend, and money for their education. 

The Chronicle of Philanthropy, reporting on Public Allies in an April 2008 article entitled "Fired Up and Ready to Grow: Youth Group's Obama Link Raises Its Profile Nationwide,” reports:

More than 2,200 young people ages 18 to 30 have graduated from its program, which provides leadership training and 10-month apprenticeships at charities—and more than 80 percent of them have continued working in nonprofit or government jobs, the group says…Public Allies participants receive average stipends of $1,500 a month…and an AmeriCorps educational grant of $4,725 if they complete the program. 

Students that complete this program are encouraged to make their career choices in either government work or far left non profits. One 25-year-old Public Allies trainee that is doing an apprenticeship at the Social Development Commission, an antipoverty group:

…hopes to use her AmeriCorps educational grant to study sociology…She says Public Allies has taught her that leadership is something that is earned. "The community organizer in me realizes I have to organize my community first to get them to understand there is a problem before I can step up on a podium and declare myself their leader."

Bill Clinton, like the Obamas, supported a similar Saul Alinsky-style boot camp when he was governor of Arkansas. His Governor's School was a six-week summer program, founded in 1979, touted as a model for educational reform. In a revealing documentary about the governor’s program, one former student, Steve Roberts, reveals the hidden agenda behind this prestigious school:

They're taking the best, the cream of the crop…the leaders in our next generation and pushing them into the values that Governor Clinton has—that the leftist media has—the values that go totally against what this nation was founded on. This is what I was exposed to. There wasn’t any warning, there wasn't anyone that said, "Okay, now you're going to have to take all the values that you grew up with and put them on the shelf and be exposed to this." If my parents had known what was going on there, they wouldn't have let me go.

Shelvia Cole, a psychologist and concerned mother, describes how the students were isolated from their families and their values:

For those six weeks…they were not allowed to go home except for July the Fourth. They are discouraged from calling home and talking on the phone. They can receive mail, but they are encouraged to have as little contact with the outside world as possible. So it's a closed campus.

Killie Wood, another former student, explains what one guest speaker told them: 

Students, do me a favor. Totally ignore your parents. Listen to them, but then forget them. Because you need to start using your own stuff.

In an effort to tear down the students' authority figure system, instructors try to convince the students that "You are the elite."

Mark Lowery, former director for Governor's School publicity, came out against the program many years ago. He says students are told by instructors: 

The reason why you're not going to be understood when you go home—not your parents, your friends, your pastor, or anybody—is because you have been treated to thoughts that they can't handle.

The purpose of such propaganda is to develop an intellectual and cultural elitism that gives kids the right to say, "We know better than you."

In the governor’s program documentary, Mark Lowery states:

I think the whole intent of the Governor's School in taking 350 – 400 students per summer, is to pick out the four, five or six students that could be political leaders and then to mold their minds in this more liberal and humanistic thinking…The greatest influence of the Governor's School is to promote the thought…that to be considered intellectual by your peers…you have to be a liberal thinker…[This is]not teaching…but indoctrination.

How was this indoctrination fostered? Among other techniques, liberal, anti-Christian values were promoted by forcing students to watch explicit pornographic movies about the gay lifestyle. (Remember, this was a taxpayer-funded program!) Another approach appears in a video promoting the Governor's School as students are seen lying on the floor while a teachers asks them, "Are you ready to divorce yourself from your bodies?" 

One of the leading goals of youth service is to brainwash students into the worldview of Saul Alinsky,(chapter 20) which includes pitting the Haves against the Have-nots in order to stir up a protest movement for the re-distribution of wealth. Alinsky believed all of society's problems could be blamed on capitalism. Although the alternative to capitalism is socialism, in true William James word manipulation style, proponents call it “social justice.” 


Larry Grathwohl was an FBI informant who penetrated the Weather Underground, a group of radical, 1960s hippies like Bill Ayers, friend of President Obama. The Weather Underground was involved in more than 30 bombings here in the United States, including a bombing of the Pentagon. Mr. Grathwohl stated that Bill Ayers and his friends often talked about what they would do when they finally brought about the communist agenda. Although they figured they'd have to reeducate 100 million people, they guessed that 25 million wouldn't succumb to the brainwashing and would have to be exterminated.  


Today Ayers is busy writing the brainwashing curriculum while his old friend President Obama is championing the legislation that will federally fund the brainwashing used in the national youth service envisioned by William James. Phyllis Schlafly, in her article "Bill Ayers's Scary Plans for Public Schools," warns: 

From his prestigious and safe university position, Ayers has been teaching teachers and students in rebellion against American capitalism and what he calls "imperialism" and "oppression." The code words for the Ayers curriculum are "social justice," a "transformative" vision, "critical pedagogy," "liberation," "capitalist injustices," "critical race theory," "queer theory," and of course multiculturalism and feminism. 

That language is typical in the readings that Ayers assigns in his university courses. He admits he is a "communist street fighter" who has been influenced by Karl Marx, as well as Che, Ho and Malcolm X. 

Ayers speaks openly of his desire to use America's public school classrooms to train a generation of revolutionaries who will overturn the U.S. social and economic regime. He teaches that America is oppressive and unjust, socialism is the solution, and wealth and resources should be redistributed. 

In Ayers's course called "On Urban Education," he calls for a "distribution of material and human resources." His left-wing notions would be very compatible with those of Barack Obama, who publicly told Joe the Plumber that we should "spread the wealth." 

Ayers's books are among the most widely used in America's education schools. Ayers even uses science and math courses as part of his "transformative" political strategy to teach that the American economic system is unjust. 

Unfortunately, Ayers's far-out education theories are already having an effect in education schools. One after another, teachers colleges are using their courses to promote socialist notions of wealth distribution, "social justice," diversity and environmentalism, and to punish students who resist this indoctrination by giving them low grades or even denying them graduation.

You might assume that Ayers's political ideas would put him on the outer fringe of the left-wing education establishment. However, his peers recently elected him to serve as vice president for curriculum in the American Education Research Association, the largest organization of education school professors and researchers.

Ayers is also a friend of Hugo Chavez, the communist leader of Venezuela, and in a 2006 speech in Venezuela, he declared, "Education is the motor-force of revolution."

Throughout history, communist and Marxist leaders have declared that they need two things for a successful revolution. The first is some kind of crisis, such as a financial crisis, and the second is the youth of the middle class. The William James, Dewey, Bush 41, Clinton, Bush 43, and Obama youth service agenda falls right in line with the goal of former Assistant U.N Secretary General Robert Muller who, in his World Core Curriculum, called for:

Assisting the child in becoming an integrated individual who can deal with personal experience while seeing himself as a part of “the greater whole.” In other words, promote growth of the group idea, so that group good, group understanding, group interrelations and group goodwill replace all limited, self-centered objectives, leading to group consciousness. 

To achieve his world-changing agenda, William James understood the need to shape the worldview of young, impressionable minds toward humanism, the end of capitalism, the ouster of parental authority, and the demise of a Constitutional Republic. His moral equivalent of war continues to destroy America from within. If in the end we are as James wanted, "owned, as soldiers are by the army,” then we will have no one to blame but ourselves due to our ignorance and intellectual laziness and our lack of committment to Biblical truth. As Hosea 4:6 says, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge."

Copyright 2009 ©Brannon Howse. This content is for Situation Room members and is not to be duplicated in any form or uploaded to other websites without the express written permission of Brannon Howse or his legally authorized representative. 


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