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Dewey Signs Communist ... Err ... Humanist Manifesto

In 1933 Dewey was one of 34 signers to a document called the Humanist Manifesto.  (Dewey scholars say he had a hand in writing it.)  After its introductory paragraphs there are fifteen numbered paragraphs each telling what humanists believe.

Point four is very like the first paragraph of Dewey’s My Pedagogic Creed written 36 years earlier:  It says you are not much more than a product of society.

The consequence of this is point fourteen.  Here is that point in full:

“The humanists are firmly convinced that existing acquisitive and profit-motivated society has shown itself to be inadequate and that a radical change in methods, controls, and motives must be instituted.  A socialized and cooperative economic order must be established to the end that the equitable distribution of the means of life be possible.  The goal of humanism is a free and universal society in which people voluntarily [yeah right] and intelligently cooperate for thecommon good.  Humanists demand a shared life in a shared world.”

Can you say Karl Marx?

The Humanist Manifesto reads like something out of Marx and Engels’ communist one.

What do I mean by that “yeah right” you ask?  Because people with self-respect do not take gladly to having their money or property “equitably distributed.”  They will resist, they will resist with force if they can, and the only way to overcome that force is with an opposite force: the police  the KGB.  This is the theory, and this is the practice.

Note the word “self-respect.”  There is a way to at least try to make that “equitable distribution” voluntary.  And that is where Dewey’s educational ideas come in, neglecting basic subjects as useless and selfish, and saturating a child with the “spirit of service,” grading a child on “how he works with others,” “how he fits into the group,” etc.

The nail that stands out gets pounded down.

The humanist’s “economic fairness and justice” means the police take your earnings and give them to politicians to distribute, and is neither fair nor just.


One form of Dewey’s “social control” is found in his Ethics (1932), chapter 21 “Social Control of Business and Industry,” section 6 “The Income Tax” (Later Works, vol. 7 page 420).  The section begins:

“The most radical measure in the field of social control which the United States has thus far adopted is the Sixteenth Amendment to the Federal Constitution.  This authorizes Congress to lay a tax upon incomes.  The amendment was adopted in 1913.”

Dewey goes on to praise the income tax and its “redistribution” of your wealth.  His “social control” means state control of your life.