This article is #20 of a weekly series highlighting the former memes of Bureaucrash, an organization once headed by my friends Pete Eyre and Jason Talley of the Motorhome Diaries. The memes were originally authored by Pete Eyre and Anja Hartleb-Parson, and were intended as means of communicating ideas about liberty in catchy and succinct ways.
Far from being environments conducive to learning, schools across the world coerce students to conform to the whims of politicians and bureaucrats. Billed as bastions of free expression, intellectual honesty and rigor, administrators have turned schools into prisons for the mind, where one-size-fits-all policies are forced upon youth and where independent thoughts are discarded. It’s a world in which the government will tell a student what they can and can’t think, wear, say, or do. It’s a world that crushes the individual for the benefit of those in power — a practice we’ve dubbed “Teensploitation.”
Teensploitation is intellectual slavery. Government schools, while alleging to perpetuate diversity, are centers of statist thought. Today, in virtually every class, students are taught to turn to the government when confronted with a problem, rather than to think for themselves, take their own initiative and bear the accompanying responsibility. Students are told that it is their duty to pay their taxes, to vote, and to accept regulations as good things, and that government is needed to protect the less-fortunate from the onslaught of capitalism. Students are rewarded not for documenting how entrepreneurs and voluntary transactions create wealth and thus lift people from poverty, but for proposing ever-more-invasive government programs under vague notions of “social justice.” Teachers parrot socialist ideas: that market failure rather than government policies caused and exacerbated the Great Depression; that redistribution is “just”; that students should listen to them and others in government because they “know what is good for them.” And like socialism, this one-size-fits-all education means that all students are treated the same — at the lowest common denominator so that none are left behind. Ever wonder why the brightest students are often bored? As H.L. Mencken stated, “The aim of public education is not to spread enlightenment at all, it is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed and train a standardized citizenry, to put down dissent and originality.”
Government schools elevate the good of the collective at the expense of the individual. Teachers tell students that the good of society, or a whole race or ethnicity ranks above that of an individual. That minority rights must be protected at the expense of individual rights. But isn’t the smallest minority the individual? Further, forcing diversity on students through programs such as affirmative action only reinforces prejudices that categorize people based on a factor outside of their control (i.e. their race/ethnicity). Using race to sort people is racist by definition. To escape the epidemic of racial conflict students need only grasp that civil society and free markets are the great equalizers, not the state, as is preached in government schools. For example, a business owner does not need the government to tell her who to hire. If she wants to stay competitive she’ll hire the most qualified person, regardless of their skin color or gender. If she doesn’t, her competitor will, placing her at a disadvantage. The same is true of whom they choose to sell to. If a business owner is racist and he refuses to sell to a certain group of people, he’ll lose business while his competitor, who sees the money to be gained, readily sells to them. But, are students taught this in school? That the market is the great equalizer? That the market, not any government program or mandate, creates the most opportunities? No? And why is that? So bureaucrats can keep their jobs?
Mandatory community service is slavery. Through programs such as Zero Tolerance and mandatory community service, government schools teach individuals to be subservient to the State, to surrender their rights without protest. Government schools are merely a bureaucratic tool—controlling what students learn, blocking diversity of thought, transforming youth into unquestioning supporters of an invasive government that controls their personal and economic decisions. As Benjamin Disraeli stated in 1874, “Whenever is found what is called a paternal government, there is found state education. It has been discovered that the best way to ensure implicit obedience is to commence tyranny in the nursery.”
Mandatory attendance violates individual rights. Though it varies by jurisdiction, governments decree by law that youth must attend school when they reach a specific age for a certain number of years, akin to a prison sentence. Failure to do so can result in fines (for their parents, whose money is already being stolen to pay for government schools) and if continued, jail. As the great hero of human rights Joseph Stalin once wrote, “Education is a weapon, whose effect depends on who holds it in his hands and at whom it is aimed.” Any wonder why it’s mandatory?