What do history's most notorious despots have in common with many of the flag-waving, patriotic politicians of our day? Both groups rise to power through the exploitation of fear, which has become a societal plague. There have been widespread casualties. We need an antidote. Feardom offers its readers a much-needed immunization.
An independent thinker is an incredible threat to the state.
For this reason, statists throughout history have attempted, through propaganda and brute force, to shape and subdue society by controlling the education of the rising generation. As Hitler himself said, “He alone who owns the youth, gains the future.”
Of course, the oppressive state is not threatened by an ignorant, innocent, and vulnerable child. The child is no match for the state’s subtle tactics, wherein it wraps its power grabs in emotionally persuasive language. A child does not have the wisdom and experience to understand history and recognize its repeatedly occurring patterns today. He is not aware of how despots and central planners have worked throughout the ages, and therefore is unable to resist their efforts in his own life.
As I explain in Latter-day Responsibility, the nuclear family has long been the interposing institution to protect children from the state. Strong families defend their young from the state’s attempts to snatch them away—physically, intellectually, or morally. They provide an environment in which the innocent child can better learn truth, and prepare to combat falsehood.
The prolific cultural commentator Michael Novak observed it this way:
Between the omnipotent state and the naked individual looms the first line of resistance against totalitarianism: the economically and politically independent family, protecting the space within which free and independent individuals may receive the necessary years of nurture.
This is truth. Its application is not relegated to the repressive regimes of history. Out of many modern examples that might be shared, a recent one stands out. Melissa Harris-Perry, a talking head for MSNBC, recently recorded a promo for her employer in which she advocated against the family and for the state. She said:
We have never invested as much in public education as we should have because we’ve always had a private notion of children, [that] your kid is yours and totally your responsibility. We haven’t had a very collective notion of these are our children.
So part of it is we have to break through our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents, or kids belong to their families, and recognize that kids belong to whole communities.
Once it’s everybody’s responsibility and not just the household’s, we start making better investments.
Of course, her remarks are framed in the context of increased funding for public education (a tool used by the state to create conformity). But they are a shadow of the statist belief regarding the individual.
To such persons, the individual is secondary in importance. The collective is the optimal organization, say the statists, and deserves our primary focus and support. Individuals must acquiesce to the will of the collective, and their efforts must be made to fulfill the collective’s goals, ideals, and priorities.
To diminish or discard parental stewardship over and responsibility for children is to directly attack the most fundamental and originating institution in existence: the family. Our independence from the state cannot be secured unless this interposing shield between the child and the state fulfills its duties. Sadly, most families willingly place their children into the care of the state from an early age, surrendering and subjecting them to its daily influence.
The collective strengthens itself by such actions. Like the machines in the Matrix surviving and thriving by harvesting humans and molding children into mere cogs of the machine, the collective in our day lives only by making sure that the individuals who comprise it remain submissive and even supportive.
Suggesting that a child is the collective’s responsibility is, in the end, an argument in favor of no responsibility. There is no such entity as a community or collective—there are only individuals, who can group together for various purposes. As such, when individual accountability is removed, when the parent-child stewardship relationship is altered or altogether severed, then the child becomes nobody’s responsibility.
This is not a rhetorical flourish. It is demonstrated fact. Consider this idea’s application to police protection. As I further document in my recent book, the government has no legal obligation to protect people from crime. One lawsuit after another by individuals against the state have concluded with the judges affirming that police officers are not obligated to help individuals, but rather to provide services to the “public at large.”
There exists a “fundamental principle,” one court said, “that a government and its agents are under no general duty to provide public services, such as police protection, to any particular individual citizen. Accordingly,” they continued, “courts have without exception concluded that when a municipality or other governmental entity undertakes to furnish police services, it assumes a duty only to the public at large and not to individual members of the community.”
Individuals have delegated their protective care to an institution that turns around and tells them that it is under no obligation to actually protect them. The state has assumed the responsibility of police protection for its citizens, and then refuses to use the police to protect each of them.
Such circumstances stand as a warning against government encroachment into other areas, including and especially education of children. The argument that children should become everybody’s responsibility—effectively, wards of the state—likewise affirms that the state actually bears no responsibility for your child, or my child, but only is involved in caring for children in general. With that understanding, the collective assuming responsibility for a certain child is in fact an abdication of any sort of responsibility for the child.
Predictably, Harris-Perry has responded to the outcry her commercial generated. She “doubled down” on her message, while aiming to clarify that she’s not looking to take away anybody’s children. How comforting. It is important to note that her response deals with superficiality and strategy, not substance; she still wants the state to bear the burden of responsibility and care for your child.
If families are to fulfill their intended objective by repositioning themselves as the “first line of resistance against totalitarianism” then they must emphatically and proactively object to the collectivist arguments the state uses to justify its incremental and ever-increasing intervention into the lives of those over whom it governs.
The fact that so many families have remained silent and subservient for so long speaks volumes regarding the current situation and what the future relationship of our children and the state will one day (soon) become.
The Matrix example used above is important to ponder, and that movie’s story is alarmingly accurate, much like some of George Orwell’s “fiction”. Those already free from the system work tirelessly to identify and liberate those who are ready to live independent of the machine. Our task is, or should be, the same.