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Radical Suits and Their Suckers Deflating Those Liberal Myths

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The Liberal Culture of Compulsion

by Christopher Chantrill
March 05, 2011 at 12:31 pm


IF YOU LISTEN to your liberal friend she will tell, perhaps, of a wonderful program at the local community college that is helping in the fight for literacy in adult women. Probably she heard about it on NPR.

It is a wonderful thing to have adult literacy programs. Only, of course, there’s no way to tell if they do any good. And there is no way for you to opt out and say “no thanks, I’d prefer to contribute to Bill Gates’s literacy programs instead.”

Our liberal friends are also apt to roll the soft-focus shots when it comes to our kids. They are big on the celebration of the “common school,” the euphemism for government child custodial facilities invented in the 19th century in the campaign to centralize of local schooling under state government administration. Said Horace Mann, the father of the common school:

Let the Common School be expanded to its capabilities, let it be worked with the efficiency of which it is susceptible, and nine tenths of the crimes in the penal code would become obsolete; the long catalogue of human ills would be abridged.

Mann’s timing was impeccable. His system went into effect just in time for the big crime wave of the 1840s.

In recent weeks, we’ve been experiencing the reality of all this feel-good effort to help the kids. Apparently the need to help the kids is nothing compared with the need for government teachers to unionize. You would think that, if the moral urgency of teaching kids is so great, that teachers would be glad to teach for almost nothing, as in fact the teachers in Catholic schools, the proverbial nuns memorialized in The Blues Brothers, really did.

Why did the Catholics build their own school system, and why did they inspire generations of young women to become nuns and teach in those schools? It was because the liberals in the mid 19th century, Harvard Unitarians like Horace Mann, in unholy alliance with Protestant leaders, declared that only the Protestant Bible could be used in the public schools for non-sectarian religious instruction. They had an agenda, of course. They figured that they would cure the Irish Catholics of their popish ways and turn them into real Americans. The Catholics, led by chaps like John “Dagger” Hughes, an immigrant gardener who became the first Catholic Archbishop of New York, rioted in Philadelphia ovre that issue, and then determined to build their own schools rather than allow their children to be polluted by the Protestant Bible.

Nothing has really changed. Today’s liberals want to cure America’s children of any Christianity, and if they haven’t succeeded by the 12th grade they have a college for your kid that specializes in remedial secular instruction in between the parties. And so today there are parents who would rather educate their children at home than send them to be polluted by union teachers in the government schools.

Samuel Johnson famously asserted that patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel. But that was in simpler times, and cannot be applied to today’s complex interconnected society. Back in the 18th century the most that an average scoundrel could get from his patriotism was a chance to riot every now and again, as in the Gordon Riots of 1780. These days people pour into the streets over more substantial issues than the Papists Act of 1778. They riot over their government pensions.

Notice the beautiful symmetry of the liberal philosophy. First they were determined to force the taxpayers to pay for education. Then they determined to force parents to send their children to the government school. Now they want to force us to pay for their pensions, just because some crooked politician promised them a pension in every garage years ago.

I will tell you what I call a political culture that turns every social problem into a government program. I call that a culture of compulsion, and I want no part of it.

Yes, but we must have a system to educate the children. That’s what my liberal friends insist when I utter heretical thoughts about the failures of government programs.

Yes we must. But why on earth would we do it with a system of government force? Why on earth does it always have to be done upon compulsion? Why is this “system” always a centralized government system of compulsion designed by liberals, run by liberals, and why does it always need to pay pensions to liberals? I say that liberals should get their own pensions.

We conservatives have a better idea about all of this. We’ll tell you about it, America, if you’re interested.

Let’s have a national conversation about America’s corrupt culture of compulsion.

Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.

Buy his Road to the Middle Class.

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Responsible Self

[The Axial Age] highlights the conception of a responsible self... [that] promise[s] man for the first time that he can understand the fundamental structure of reality and through salvation participate actively in it.
Robert N Bellah, "Religious Evolution", American Sociological Review, Vol. 29, No. 3.

Taking Responsibility

[To make] of each individual member of the army a soldier who, in character, capability, and knowledge, is self-reliant, self-confident, dedicated, and joyful in taking responsibility [verantwortungsfreudig] as a man and a soldier. — Gen. Hans von Seeckt
MacGregor Knox, Williamson Murray, ed., The dynamics of military revolution, 1300-2050

Civil Society

“Civil Society”—a complex welter of intermediate institutions, including businesses, voluntary associations, educational institutions, clubs, unions, media, charities, and churches—builds, in turn, on the family, the primary instrument by which people are socialized into their culture and given the skills that allow them to live in broader society and through which the values and knowledge of that society are transmitted across the generations.
Francis Fukuyama, Trust

What Liberals Think About Conservatives

[W]hen I asked a liberal longtime editor I know with a mainstream [publishing] house for a candid, shorthand version of the assumptions she and her colleagues make about conservatives, she didn't hesitate. “Racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-choice fascists,” she offered, smiling but meaning it.
Harry Stein, I Can't Believe I'm Sitting Next to a Republican

Liberal Coercion

[T]he Liberal, and still more the subspecies Radical... more than any other in these latter days seems under the impression that so long as he has a good end in view he is warranted in exercising over men all the coercion he is able[.]
Herbert Spencer, The Man Versus the State

Moral Imperatives of Modern Culture

These emerge out of long-standing moral notions of freedom, benevolence, and the affirmation of ordinary life... I have been sketching a schematic map... [of] the moral sources [of these notions]... the original theistic grounding for these standards... a naturalism of disengaged reason, which in our day takes scientistic forms, and a third family of views which finds its sources in Romantic expressivism, or in one of the modernist successor visions.
Charles Taylor, Sources of the Self

US Life in 1842

Families helped each other putting up homes and barns. Together, they built churches, schools, and common civic buildings. They collaborated to build roads and bridges. They took pride in being free persons, independent, and self-reliant; but the texture of their lives was cooperative and fraternal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism

Society and State

For [the left] there is only the state and the individual, nothing in between. No family to rely on, no friend to depend on, no community to call on. No neighbourhood to grow in, no faith to share in, no charities to work in. No-one but the Minister, nowhere but Whitehall, no such thing as society - just them, and their laws, and their rules, and their arrogance.
David Cameron, Conference Speech 2008

Faith and Politics

As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, the principal focus of her interventions in the public arena is the protection and promotion of the dignity of the person, and she is thereby consciously drawing particular attention to principles which are not negotiable... [1.] protection of life in all its stages, from the first moment of conception until natural death; [2.] recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family... [3.] the protection of the right of parents to educate their children.
Pope Benedict XVI, Speech to European Peoples Party, 2006

Never Trust Experts

No lesson seems to be so deeply inculcated by the experience of life as that you should never trust experts. If you believe doctors, nothing is wholesome: if you believe the theologians, nothing is innocent: if you believe the soldiers, nothing is safe. They all require their strong wine diluted by a very large admixture of insipid common sense.
Lord Salisbury, “Letter to Lord Lytton”

Conservatism's Holy Grail

What distinguishes true Conservatism from the rest, and from the Blair project, is the belief in more personal freedom and more market freedom, along with less state intervention... The true Third Way is the Holy Grail of Tory politics today - compassion and community without compulsion.
Minette Marrin, The Daily Telegraph

Class War

In England there were always two sharply opposed middle classes, the academic middle class and the commercial middle class. In the nineteenth century, the academic middle class won the battle for power and status... Then came the triumph of Margaret Thatcher... The academics lost their power and prestige and... have been gloomy ever since.
Freeman Dyson, “The Scientist as Rebel”

presented by Christopher Chantrill

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