What We Need is a New Renaissance

Old-Thinker News | January 4, 2010

By Daniel Taylor

Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day.” – Thomas Jefferson

The first decade of the 21st Century brought a dizzying array of events to the world. September 11th, 2001 was a catalyst for dramatic changes in the United States. Economic and geopolitical turmoil is re-ordering the globe. The prospect of domestic tyranny, under both the Bush and Obama administrations, has forced millions of Americans to re-examine history and become engaged once again in civil society. Endless banker bailouts at the expense of taxpayers is yet another vivid example set before America of the dangers of ever-expanding government. Out of these events the stage is being set for something new to emerge. Current events and economic hardship are causing many people to become more introspective and reflective. What we need is a new renaissance, and indeed this has already been happening organically.


The renaissance of the 14th century involved widespread educational reform. This new renaissance also involves a re-examination of what education should be. Particularly, the realization that schooling – which is what the current system involves – and true education are two entirely different things. The modern schooling system isn’t connected to the real world. It is the great dis-connector. Many people are taught from an early age to hate learning, and at the very least see it as a cumbersome and irrelevant task. One of the ways this is achieved is due to the fact that the delivery mechanism of public school itself is widely scorned. I knew, and most of my peers knew whether consciously or not, that we weren’t at school to fulfill our own desires. We were there to please someone else.

Today’s educational renaissance has already been happening in millions of homes across America. The number of home schooling families has exploded in the past decade. According to a recent USA Today article, 1.5 million children are home schooled as of 2007. This is a dramatic 74% increase since 1999 when the Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics began monitoring home schooling.

John Taylor Gatto, former New York state teacher of 30 years, has dedicated his life to exposing the true roots of the forced schooling system in the United States. Gatto provides a plethora of possible solutions and alternatives in his many books. His recent plan of action was printed in his book Weapons of Mass Instruction. The Bartleby Project, as Gatto has named it, is aiming to strike at one of the pillars of the current schooling system: standardized testing. “Break the grip of official testing on students, parents and teachers, and we will have taken the logical first step in revitalizing education,” writes Gatto. He continues,

“Let a group of young men and women, one fully aware that these tests add no value to individual lives or the social life of the majority, use the power of the internet to recruit other young people to refuse, quietly, to take these tests. No demonstrations, no mud-slinging, no adversarial politics – to simply write across the face of the tests placed in front of them, ‘I would prefer not to take this test.’”

Gatto stresses that this should not be a centralized movement. It should be an organic, diverse and headless group of free-thinking students that realize the need for change.

Robert Wanek has been leading his own battle at his Minnesota high school. He has a reputation among school staff as a renown outlaw. His outspoken nature goes against the grain of the school structure, as he is effectively kicking sand into the gears of the machine. A recent episode involved Robert’s attempt to calmly hand out literature detailing possible dangers of swine flu vaccination to students and staff. The incident ended with Robert being assaulted by a teacher who pushed him into a locker. Robert’s efforts were not in vain, however. Several students walked away from the vaccine site without receiving the shot.

The New Media

This type of guerrilla activism brings us to another manifestation of the new renaissance. We Are Change, which began with the idea of one young man named Luke Rudkowski, is a growing world-wide activist group. It has no centralized structure, and like Gatto’s Bartleby Project, this makes it indestructible. It comprises of motivated individuals who seek to confront public figures on a wide range of issues.

Technology is playing a critical role in the materialization of the new renaissance. As the printing press forever changed the world in 1445, giving books to the masses, so has the internet in the 21st century. We have seen over the past 10 years an explosive growth of alternative media on the internet, which is giving a voice to popular resistance. This is allowing an unprecedented flow of information at the blink of an eye, allowing for rapid social change and activism.

We Are Change is utilizing the internet to its full extent, posting thousands of videos from across the world online. Luke Rudkowski states,

“Today, all it takes to create an exposé is a laptop and a camera, or even just a cell phone. Anyone can take video and upload it to YouTube for the world to see. This accessibility opens up the possibility of an uncontrolled flow of information around the world.”

He adds, “The mainstream media occasionally misses big stories that rock society – either by negligence or on purpose – that online activists uncover.”

The mainline media has begun to recognize the rising tide of online news and information, as newspaper circulation is declining rapidly. The power of the internet was demonstrated in a dramatic way as the Climate Gate scandal recently unfolded. Online blogs and alternative media sources were among the first to report the story and force it into the mainstream.

Political awareness

During the 2008 Presidential campaign, a nationwide grass roots movement formed to back Congressman Ron Paul for President. While Paul did not win the Presidency, he did succeed in planting seeds in millions of minds. Young people across the nation were impacted by his message of libertarianism and constitutional government. Ron Paul meetup groups were formed that connected like-minded freedom loving people, many of which are still active in other ventures today.

Due in large part to the internet and alternative media, awareness has spread regarding the existence of the global elite. The influence that the elite wields through organizations such as the Bilderberg group is now widely understood by a sizeable portion of the population. Italian MP Mario Borghezio denounced the influence that these groups have while speaking at the European Parliament in November of last year.

Amidst these trends we are going to see something new emerge. To the extent that the establishment is able, it will attempt to co-opt or direct movements that seek action and change. True change begins in the hearts and minds of men and women. We, as a society and individually, need to reclaim our minds and destiny. The new decade that has just begun will be a defining time for the United States and the world. Will a strong grass roots movement infuriated by the corruption of the two party system install a libertarian president like Ron Paul in 2012? Will global government seize the globe in its tyrannical grip?

Let us make this decade a defining moment in America. Let it be a time when a new renaissance was sparked to life, renewing our understanding of history and our place in it.

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