Mandate for Liberty
Surely by now all of you have heard about Exodus Mandate – a Christian religious group that wants to take children out of government schools and into homeschooling environments. As far as I can see, the Mandate is as close to the mainstream media's definition of the Evil Theocratic Religious Right as can be. For example, they don't really like gay people. According to Wikipedia, "The group is active within the Southern Baptist Convention and has introduced a succession of anti-lesbian and anti-gay initiatives within the Convention."
The author of this short article, on the other hand, is a Jewish-born libertarian bisexual agnostic who's engaged to a German-born atheist lady. One would think there's no real reason such a person would endorse Exodus Mandate – and yet, I can say with all proper conviction, the Exodus Mandate is a very good thing for the cause of restoring individual liberty in America and in the world entire.
To understand why anybody, regardless of religion, should cheer Exodus Mandate for it's efforts, one should read the original blueprint for the institution of statist oppression – the Communist Manifesto.
In that work, among many interesting things, Marx and Engels outline ten measures that need to be accomplished politically in order to bring about the dictatorship of the Proletariat (they believed that would later transcend into a perfect stateless society). In any event, they have listed not the definition of this future state, but ten measures, that, if introduced, would inevitably lead to it's formation. In their very words:
Of course, in the beginning, this cannot be effected except by means of despotic inroads on the rights of property, and on the conditions of bourgeois production; by means of measures, therefore, which appear economically insufficient and untenable, but which, in the course of the movement, outstrip themselves, necessitate further inroads upon the old social order, and are unavoidable as a means of entirely revolutionizing the mode of production. [The Communist Manifesto, Chapter II: Proletarians and Communists]
In this text, Marx and Engels provide us with a clever insight which applies to all systems of government. You do not need, they say, to topple the regime outright to achieve the revolution you wish – merely introduce new institutions which mandate a new kind of relationship between the individual, society, and the state, and, as the new system of relation asserts itself, it spreads out to all sectors of public, and eventually private life. Change the way people commute, work, and teach their children, and your revolution is assured. It is interesting that Marx has mentioned, as the tenth plank of it's platform, 'Free education for all children in public schools.'
So if this is true – and there are a group of measures that, if accomplished, achieve the continuous growth of government and its increased intrusion into private life, would there not be a group of measures that would, if introduced, cause a great
decrease of it's intrusion? One is reminded of Neil Smith's maxim: When the enemy screams "Foul!" the loudest, you know you're doing him the most damage. Those who help him scream are also the enemy.
When education is public and control of it belongs to the state, the natural tendency is for it to be used to teach the values of whatever dominant majority happens to be in control of the government. In America, this means taking children to Earth Day rallies and having them chant 'they want to drill our parks for oil that will pollute our sea and soil' or that 'emphasizing individualism as opposed to a more collective ideology' is 'racist'. And the longer that this public mandatory education system persists, the more people are assured that their civilization cannot survive without it – nevermind the greatest achievements of civilization – parliamentary democracy, the concept of individual liberty, the printing press, the lightbulb, the automobile – were given to us by people who never saw the inside of a public school. And with government in control of our schools – can you guess what this will do to individual liberty in twenty years? A century?
Further – as Marx understood – it's the 'natural interest' (if it wants to remain existent) of private schooling and homeschooling to defend it's raison d'etre, the 'bourgeois state of mind' – the ideas of individual liberty and private property. Granted, there are for sure socialist homeschoolers, but in general, it's likely the supporters of state control of education would not take their children from these schools.
No, Jerry Falwell is not by any means an advocate of personal liberty in the Neil Smith or H.L. Mencken mod – and I would not use his programs on my children – but it is to be granted that he's no statist either. To quote the man himself: "I hope to see the day when, as in the early days of our country, we don't have public schools. The churches will have taken them over again and Christians will be running them."
And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why we want Mr. Falwell to win. Because whne people are taken out of the government's schools – especially to environments that 'present free-enterprise economics without apology and point out the dangers of Communism, socialism, and liberalism to the well-being of people across the globe' – the NEA and DOE lose power. Because parents who don't have their children in public schools will not vote for increased Federal control over the curricula, and they will not vote for more NEA budgets. And their children, who learn about free-enterprise economics, will not vote for more FDA regulation and DEA powers and EEOC controls.
A system of education that Mr. Falwel and Ray Moore envision cannot exist but in an environment based around individual choice and free markets, and Mr. Falwell knows it full well. And when this happens, this will – as such things do – bring about more and more individual freedom – much more then Mr. Falwell and the theocrats around him want, perhaps. Certainly more then we have now.
As such, I suggest that Jerry Falwell, Ray Moore and the Christian Right are our unwitting friends. And as such, I recommend that if a general Libertarian Manifesto is to be written – a practical, non-Rothbard Manifesto to include all small government advocates – it is to have as it's first plank the words:
1.Education of all children in private schools or homeschooling environments.
Et ceterum censeo Department of Education delenda essem.
1. Marx, Engels, "The Communist Manifesto"
2. L. Neil Smith, "Lever Action"
3. Vin Suprinowycz, "Send in the Waco Killers"
4. Seattle Public Schools website, Definitions of Racism