Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 687, September 9, 2012

"The parasites who think they own us are beginning to be afraid"

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Socratic Underground Academy
by A.X. Perez

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Attribute to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise

Many libertarians have expressed their hatred and disdain for the public school system. I can't argue, the state has established a strong monopoly over education and it would be better if more people could and would use alternatives such as home schooling or private schools (closely monitored by all parents and not just the "in group") if you happen to need the right piece of paper. There remains the basic issues that public schools are paid for by tax dollars and that their goals include indoctrination of children to be loyal citizens and toe the party line.

However, this all gets kinda on the philosophical side when the scandal you are dealing with is that your schools are pushing kids out so that they won't have to count their score in standardized tests. Currently school districts are penalized if they have trouble with standardized tests, and given money, including bonuses for administrators, if they do well. So when kids are held back a year so they won't be tested, promoted so they won't be tested, and flat out kicked out of school so they won't be tested and hurt the school district's stats, it seems to people observing the situation that libertarian complaints about the school system are irrelevant to the problems they are facing. They aren't by the way, but when you want your kids getting assimilated into the system critiques of public schooling tearing into its mission of assimilating kids into the system rather than its efficacy at achieving that goal are meaningless.

Many libertarians have expressed their rejection of the electoral system. Their argument is that simply by voting you are expressing approval of "the system" and thus empowering tyrants. I'll give you a hint, real tyrants don't care, they understand that the only approval they need is of their praetorian guards. Others feel voting is a meaningless ritual since our choices are between Tweedledumbass and Tweedledumber.

Of course, when people feel it is necessary to show up armed to drive away voters or to hassle people for proof of citizenship in the hopes of discouraging people from voting; when your local paper, notable for its puff piece nature, reports more cases of voter fraud in one local election than opponents of voter ID laws want to admit have happened nationwide for a century, it becomes obvious that some folk think voting matters and that elections do change things. (Also that my sentences get too long). Again, the don't participate bunch come across as irrelevant.

It is true that loading up on Vitamin C will help reduce your chances of getting a cold. But when I have a secondary infection of pneumonia I don't need lectures on vitamin megadoses, I need antibiotics. Similarly, when the problem people are facing with schools is that they aren't teaching their kids English and American values, proclaiming the virtues of of homeschooling, where they will learn perfect Spanish and Tarahuramara and Mexican values, isn't helpful. When people are struggling to get the right to vote and actually have their vote count rather than be swamped out by fraudulent votes, explaining why they should drop out of the electoral system is a waste of time. Too often we are advising people of the need to drain a swamp while they are up to their asses in alligators and it's time we faced that and started advising people on how to avoid becoming reptile chow. But if you get rid of the swamp, there will be no alligators. True, the question remains surviving until the swamp is drained, and the gators are going to get meaner as the swamp gets smaller.

Setting up a Socratic underground academy is the way to beat the school system. How to tame or render irrelevant the electoral system without getting rid of the entire government is beyond my ken. Both take time and effort. I understand Jim Davidson among others is addressing the former issue.

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