By Bradley Harrington
“Liberty is not collective, it is personal. All liberty is individual liberty.” — Calvin Coolidge, “Holy Name Society Address,” 1924 —
Last week, in an open letter to a local student, I defined “individual liberty” as our “right to our own thoughts and lives, as well as the right to free association” (“5th-grader’s dreams trigger avalanche of ideas, emotions,” WTE, March 11).
What I DIDN’T tell that young lady, however, because it’s a message best passed along to the adults, is that the school system’s ability to teach these ideas disappeared decades ago, thereby leaving students such as her helpless in the face of what’s replaced it instead.
“Ideas,” if you want to call them that, such as these, for instance:
“With respect to the United States, students learn the unique features of American representative democracy, the constitutional separation of powers, and the rule of law.” (“Grade 9 Civics Syllabus,” Delaware Department of Education.)
And the problem with that statement, which I’m sure most of us won’t even catch or detect? Just one short phrase — “representative democracy.”
Sorry, but the United States was founded as a REPUBLIC, not a “democracy.” Indeed, since we’re speaking of studying the Constitution, here’s what the “Father of the Constitution,” James Madison, had to say about such systems:
“Democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.” (“The Federalist No. 10,” 1787.)
No, the Founders, with very few exceptions, were extremely distrustful of “democracy,” as it was correctly perceived that it contained no mechanism to prevent the abolition of the rights of the minority by an impassioned majority.
But observe what such obfuscations make possible, just a few sentences later:
“Possible reasons for studying civics that teachers will want to explore with students include … teaching students in a democracy how to govern themselves.”
Really? WHAT kind of “self-governance” is possible in a social system where the majority can wipe out the rights of the minority any time it pleases, simply by casting a vote?
And the purpose of such a “civics” course? According to the Delaware Department of Education’s syllabus, that would be: “Understanding how and why governments are structured as they are equips citizens with the ability to navigate their government as they strive to contribute to the public good and seek solutions to public policy problems.”
Observe the tacit and unstated assumption that the purpose of all of our lives is not personal happiness and achievement, but contributions to the “public good” and work on “public policy problems” instead. An authoritarian premise if there ever was one, as it places society ahead of the individual — whereas the great fact of the American political system is that it held the INDIVIDUAL as supreme, with the existence of “society” as a mere means to those ends.
And all of that, simply by changing one word to another … And it’s exactly by means of such intellectual “package-deals” that the minds of our youth are poisoned, most likely for good, by the multitude of collectivist assumptions that have been smuggled into their so-called “educations.”
Now, does this mean that the curricula of EVERY school in the country suffers from such horrible manipulations? Of course not; I’m sure there’s still a few schools, somewhere, that have yet to have their curricula so corrupted. And I’m also quite sure that there’s still a good number of teachers out there that don’t swallow such propaganda.
Can there be any doubt in anyone’s mind, however, that such alternative approaches are now the exception and not the rule? As proof, I offer the goings-on of the campuses of 95 percent of the high schools, colleges and universities in the country.
Nor is this phenomenon of “educational” indoctrination anything other than what we should expect, since history makes it clear — for anyone interested in actually studying it — that collectivist regimes have always used the schools as a means of promoting lies conducive to the demands of those in power.
There’s a reason why Karl Marx made “Free education for all children in public schools” his Tenth Plank, after all, and here you have it. Of what use do collectivists and authoritarians have for independent thinkers who will only end up challenging their rule?
So, now that we’ve defined the problem properly, isn’t the answer obvious? Replace these controls with REAL schools, free-market schools, thereby sweeping such agitprop out with the rest of the trash. Then our kids might actually have a fighting chance at self-realization.
Bradley Harrington is a computer technician and a writer who lives in Cheyenne. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
NOTE: This column was originally published in the Wyoming Tribune Eagle on March 18, 2018.