|The Amazon Public Wish List||The Way of Education|
by Christopher Chantrill
January 01, 2005 at 12:30 pm
BACK in the nineteenth century, before we learned to love them, the poor had to struggle their way up from indigence on their own. They built a sturdy road to the middle class with enthusiastic Christianity, a dogged pursuit of education, a web of mutual-aid associations, and a respect for the law.
But the elites of the time were unimpressed, and declared that they could do better.
They called their creation the welfare state.
The welfare state was built for a great and noble purpose: to raise the industrial poor up from misery to a decent standard of living. In this strict material sense, it has been a great success. But it was not achieved without cost. As economist Robert William Fogel has written: such problems as drug addiction, alcoholism, births to unmarried teenage girls, rape, the battery of women and children, broken families, violent teenage death, and crime are generally more severe today than they were a century ago. Theodore Dalrymple has described in Life at the Bottom how this looks to a physician in an inner-city hospital in the British midlands.
The welfare state has certainly rained material benefits upon the poor. But it has robbed them of their birthright, the pride of independence, to be able to echo Corin in the Forest of Arden: I earn that I eat, get that I wear, owe no man hate, envy no mans happiness.
In his The Fourth Great Awakening and the Future of Egalitarianism, Fogel warns his fellow liberals that the moral collapse of the poor is going to cost them. Unless they act promptly to correct the maldistribution of spiritual resources that afflicts the poor, others will step in and do it their way. Fogel calls for a program to provide the poor in spirit with spiritual values such as a sense of purpose, a sense of benevolence, a capacity for self-education, a sense of discipline, and to give egalitarians a future.
Do the poor need a sense of purpose? They could go with mega-church preacher Rick Warrens A Purpose-Driven Life or attend one of the 3,000 Pentecostal churches in New York City ( a new one opens every three weeks). Secular elitists stigmatize enthusiastic Christians as superstitious bigots.
Do the poor need a capacity for self-education? They could support the home-school or the school-choice movement. Many of them already do, but elite Democrats are standing in the school-house door defending the status quo.
Do the poor need a sense of benevolence? Why, back in the nineteenth century, the poor joined mutual-aid associationsthe Oddfellows, the Elks, and the Moosein their millions. Then the left came along and killed the mutual-aid movement by nationalizing benevolence into the welfare state.
Do the poor need a sense of discipline? But the liberal Sixties generation has spent a lifetime marginalizing discipline and defining deviancy down. They should be in charge of helping the poor with their discipline problems?
Is the elite perhaps a little overqualified for the job of fighting a war on spiritual inequality? In the nineteenth century the poor built the road to the middle class on their own with faith, mutual aid, education, and by learning to live under law. Their program produced a balanced combination of material progress and spiritual growth, and it still does. Why mess with it?
Buy his Road to the Middle Class.
[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
[T]he way to achieve a system of determining admission to the public schools on a nonracial basis,
Brown II, 349 U. S., at 300–301, is to stop assigning students on a racial basis. The way to stop
discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.
Roberts, C.J., Parents Involved in Community Schools vs. Seattle School District
[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
[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
[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.
[In the] higher Christian churches... they saunter through the liturgy like Mohawks along a string of scaffolding who have long since forgotten their danger. If God were to blast such a service to bits, the congregation would be, I believe, genuinely shocked. But in the low churches you expect it every minute.
Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm
[Every] sacrifice is an act of impurity that pays for a prior act of greater impurity... without its participants having to suffer the full consequences incurred by its predecessor. The punishment is commuted in a process that strangely combines and finesses the deep contradiction between justice and mercy.
Frederick Turner, Beauty: The Value of Values
Within Pentecostalism the injurious hierarchies of the wider world are abrogated and replaced by a single hierarchy of faith, grace, and the empowerments of the spirit... where groups gather on rafts to take them through the turbulence of the great journey from extensive rural networks to the mega-city and the nuclear family...
David Martin, On Secularization
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
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
There was nothing new about the Frankish drive to the east... [let] us recall that the continuance of their rule depended upon regular, successful, predatory warfare.
Richard Fletcher, The Barbarian Conversion
The Union publishes an exact return of the amount of its taxes; I can get copies of the budgets of the four and twenty component states; but who can tell me what the citizens spend in the administration of county and township?
Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America