THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 737, September 8, 2013
"Progressives"? I call them regressives.
Attribute to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise
Socialism is an ethical and political belief that the life and rights of the individual (provided that he has any at all) are less important than the life and putative rights of the group. Given historical examples like Stalin's Soviet Union, Mao's People's Republic, and Hitler's Third Reich, it should be easy to see the consequences of such a belief and condemn it for what it is: moral cannibalism.
Between them, they murdered over a hundred million people.
But, as our mentor Robert LeFevre told us, to any extent that a culture has a "public sector", to that extent it is socialistic—potentially capable of the same abuses the more egregious examples of socialism are. Altogether, socialist governments in the 20th century murdered two hundred million of their own people in acts entirely separate from war. Amnesty International calls them "killing machines".
As I say, it's easy to figure out why socialist regimes are always so bloodthirsty. If an individual life possesses little or no value, compared with the continued existence of the group, and if the rights of the individual are few or none, compared with those claimed for the group, the individual quickly comes to be seen as worthless at best, and a threat at worst, to those who pretend to speak or act for the group.
We see this pattern repeated endlessly: Germany's Jews, Russia's Kulaks, China's "landlords", and long before them, Armenians in the Ottoman Empire and landholders in the American South. At one time of another, each of them was declared to be a threat to the group that must be eradicated, whatever the cost. This way of looking at other people—that they are yours to use and dispose of—is a form of dementia.
It is caused by socialism.
Which brings us to the subject of today's diatribe, an article I was directed to (hat-tip to Tatiana Covington) on Slate.com, awkwardly entitled, "If You Send Your Kid to Private School, You Are a Bad Person—A Manifesto". This unintelligent but very revealing piece, posted Thursday, August 29, 2013, was written by somebody called Allison Benedikt, who slings a keyboard like some breathless high school cheerleader, but is apparently a movie critic for the Chicago Tribune.
As Joe-Bob would say, check it out.
What this little death-dealer proposes—"demands" would be more accurate—is that all private schools be outlawed (whoops there go the First, Fourth, Fifth, Ninth, and Tenth Amendments) and everybody forced to send their children to, and participate in the public school system. (Later in the essay she denies wanting to outlaw private schools, but, as we all know, consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds.)
This is, given the unignorable temper and tendency of our times, exactly like seeing the private structure of the Internet demolished, and then being compelled at bayonet-point (Why is it that liberals never seem to remember that the law, no matter how noble it may sound or high-minded its intentions, consists of nothing but brute force: guns, clubs, noxious sprays, and tasers?) to go back to the United States Postal System or the good old mercantilist Bell Telephone monopoly.
"Progressives"? I call them regressives.
What's more, she issues this bizarre edict—which she labels a "manifesto"—not for the sake of your children, nor even for their children down the road. In words straight from an Ayn Rand villain's mouth (what critic says real people don't talk like this?), she says this: "Your children and grandchildren might get mediocre educations in the meantime, but it will be worth it, for the eventual common good."
Yes, she openly admits that your progeny will probably suffer, educationally (and no doubt otherwise—look at the extracurricular activities she admits to), as a result of being forced back into the public system as it exists and operates today. she waxes positively lyrical over the egalitarian ecstasy of attending school with individuals more likely to knife somebody for a pair of shoes than she is.
She keeps congratulating herself on how well she turned out, even as she almost brags at how badly educated she is—and demonstrates it with her writing. Would she brag if she knew she's an enabler of democide?
But, in the words of V.I. Lenin, "You can't make an omelet without breaking eggs". The outrage she proposes will be carried out for the sake of remote future generations, (that phrase, "for the eventual common good" is something to conjure with) who will benefit from your interactions, even involuntary and at gunpoint, with the system. I greatly fear that the thought processes behind global warming—which is what this mess resembles—have destroyed certain human minds forever.
I trust that you will pardon me if I appear somewhat biased by my knowledge of history and human nature (subjects that she cheerfully admits, thanks to her own "lame" education by the public schools, she knows next to nothing about). But the whole idea sounds a lot to me like waiting for the arrival, via Lamarckian Evolution, of "New Soviet Man".
Her theory goes something like this: public schools today are a wreck. (An unsalvageable wreck, most people would say, but let's hear her out.) But if every one of the country's parents had their kids in the public schools, enough of those parents would go to bat for their kids, working through the PTA and other institutions, to fix what's wrong.
This input must consist, she maintains, of more than "just lip-service investment, or property tax investment, but [of] real flesh-and-blood-offspring investment". Remember what I said about cannibalism?
The trouble is, nobody "working" in the system actually wants this to happen. They regard parental involvement in subject matter, textbook choices, pedagogical methods, disciplinary issues, and, above all, in ideological direction, as meddling. When the school system proclaims loudly, as it often does, that it wants parental ideas and opinions, what it's really looking for is validation—"the sanction of the victim".
I attended the public schools between 1951 and 1964. My parents were the "troublemaking" kind our author implies she's looking for, and got at least two teachers fired, that I know of. They belonged to the PTA, right enough, but never relied on what was mostly a company dodge to keep parents quiet—any more than I rely on that bastion of compromise, appeasement, and naked capitulation, the National Rifle Association, to defend my right to own and carry weapons. But what the author wants, principally, is help with fund-raising. These days, my folks would be removed by uniformed force, the school's doors locked and chained to keep people like them out. They would be regarded as terrorists.
Sure, I remember a tiny handful of good teachers from the public schools. Maybe six. I also remember how their greatest efforts were canceled out by a system intent on following the Japanese policy of "hammering down the nail that sticks up"—a suicidal practice that, just as I predicted it would in the 1980s, produced the "Lost Decade" and kept Japan from becoming the major economic and political player on the world stage that everyone else was terrified they were going to be.
But what I remember, with far greater poignancy, was the sorry collection of petty, often brutal, soul-destroying dictatorships that were the classrooms in the average elementary, junior high, and high school.
I wasn't educated by such a system, I survived it, and became what I am today in spite of it. I suspect most of my contemporaries feel the same way. I know, too, that today the schools are worse— much worse—a nightmare dimension in which propaganda, rather than the truth holds sway, outright lies are taught as facts, attempts are made to pry into the inmates' private lives and those of their families, and socialism is assumed as the institution's ideological foundation.
And to prove it, our little comrade gives fair warning, right at the beginning, "I am not an education policy wonk: I'm just judgmental ... You are a bad person if you send your children to private school. Not bad like murderer bad—but bad like ruining one of our nation's most essential institutions in order to get what's best for your kid bad.
"So, pretty bad."
And you, Ms. Benedikt, are a self-admitted ignoramus (and apparently proud if it), thanks to what you describe as your "lame" public education. If you were better educated, or had a longer memory, you'd know that it wasn't parents who send their kids to private schools—and are forced to pay double for their diligence, both tuition and property tax—that ruined the public school system. The public school system ruined itself. The institution you adore, and are willing to beat people up and kill them to revive, is financed by extortion.
It is populated by conscription—that's what truancy laws amount to.
It is operated by parasitic, dimwitted slugs even more pathetically undereducated than you are, overpaid and overfed intellectual basket cases who couldn't find a job in the private sector to save their lives.
Nothing with that kind of poison at its moral roots can turn out well.
But wait—as Ron Popeil would say—there's more!
I have a counter-proposal for you. Face the truth, little comrade, socialism is done. Stick a fork in it. No intellectual construct— with the possible exception of social security or global warming— has ever been more thoroughly discredited. Socialist regimes that have killed and killed and killed are now joining their victims in the dust of history. Some of your fellow human beings, at least, have managed to learn the lesson the whole socialist thing had to teach—albeit at the cost of hundreds of millions of innocent, individual human lives.
Further, everybody knows that everything government touches turns to crap. So here's my counter-proposal. Empty out every public school building across the country. Set their involuntary inmates free, cut their taskmasters, and their taskmasters off the nipple. Next, following the advice of Cato the Elder (you would know about him if you knew anything of history or took Latin in high school), raze those buildings to the ground, so that not one stone remains standing on another.
And sow salt on the ruins.
Following that, let's pass a Constitutional amendment formally separating education from government, so the latter can't do any more damage. We'll let the private sector, which demonstrably gets things done better, cheaper, and faster, assume the task of educatimg our children.
Unless we educate them ourselves, of course. I noticed that you didn't mention home schooling in your article, little comrade. With an insignificant exception or two, my 23-year-old daughter never spent a minute in a public classroom and we never begged for any statist authority's permission. That must hold a special kind of horror for you.
But whatever else we do, get this and get it good. You refer to your colleagues and others who send their children to private schools as being in need of "moral adjustment" and morally bankrupt, while pusillanimously trying to soften the blow by wrapping that phrase in parentheses.
I ask you, who is more morally bankrupt:
(A) somebody who attempts to get his children the best possible education he can afford and—probably more important—protect them from being beaten up, robbed, raped, stabbed, shot, or involuntarily drugged into submission by the authorities, in the savage jungles like Chicago and Detroit and Denver that you and those of your vile ilk have generated with a century of "progressive" policies and programs; or
(B) somebody who attempts to force more and more innocent young lives into a meat-grinder like that, and let the churned and bloody flesh pile up beneath it, until by some miracle, all of the thugs, big and little, all of the muggers, the rapists, and the killers, are suddenly and inexplicably reformed by the mere presence of clean, wholesome Productive Class children, in the sewer you have made and filled?
It is not American parents who need moral adjustment, little comrade.
It is you, little comrade, it is you.