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Could this be the ‘golden issue’ that changes a generation?

The plans by the state to extend the period of educational conscription in Britain could well be the issue that helps radicalise future generations in a most useful way, at least if you see the world the way I do.

“Here is a Government that has toyed with the idea of lowering the voting age to 16 in order to promote a greater sense of citizenship amongst our young people. Yet it proposes to extend compulsory education or training to 18, to compel the already disaffected to, in their perception, prolong the agony.”

She said that making teenagers “conscripts” was likely to “reinforce failure, leading to even greater disaffection. Enforcement could lead to mass truancy, further disruption to other learners and staff, maybe even needless criminalisation if ‘enforcement measures’ are imposed,

I am also delighted to see someone in the mainstream media making the self-evident point that state education is indeed conscription. The absurdity of trying to teach children who are determined to not be taught is evident at sinkhole schools across the country so why the state thinks digging the same hole deeper is going to solve anything is not obvious to me. Still, never interrupt the enemy when he is making a mistake as there is a clear upside to all this. What the government intends to do will engender disaffection and hostility to the impositions of the state at an early age, and without doubt mischievous political activists will fan the flames by pointing out to the internet savvy blog reading schoolyard conscripts of the future that they are not wrong to feel angry and they are not wrong to refuse to cooperate. Excellent.

22 comments to Could this be the ‘golden issue’ that changes a generation?

  • You make a sneaky sort of sense with this one. Also what will the ‘conscripted’ voters do with their vote?

  • Brad

    I recall earlier discussions of this topic here included concepts that the supporters of longer “conscription” believed that the last two years is where all the educational goodness was going to reside, hence boredom would not be a problem. Spurious on their part, but I really think that a goodly number of the supporters believed this, and had no response as to why the previous several years were bankrupt of anything useful. But those who wish to impose more State would never get their cause off the ground if they pondered such questions much less answer when someone asks. It’s the game that states we need more government because it, tacitly, has failed but not admitting so because it would hurt the cause at its root.

  • chuck

    Slightly off topic, I see the following at American Thinker(Link):

    So waiting for the Dolphin swim at Discovery Cove in Orlando, my daughter Nikki and I were seated with a Brit family–mom, daughter and son. After small talk about the great value of the pound vs the dollar etc, I mentioned that Churchill was one of my heroes. The son, no more than 16 countered that he really liked Hitler, and his sister Gandhi. I was stunned and sickened.

    According to him, Hitler was a great leader and did great things for the German people. He brought them out of depression. His quest for land was only to provide “living space” for the German people. The reason for the London bombings was because Britain “carpet bombed” German cities. Hitler had to attack France, for they were a treat to his effort to gain land for living space. The atrocities of the Holocaust were attributed to the fact that he was “mad”, so it wasn’t his fault. In general, his intentions were noble.

    In speaking privately with his mother after my discussion, she stated that this is the new curriculum in the British schools to combat “prejudice” against Germans. They teach the children not to “judge” Hitler.

    Does this sort of thing actually get taught in British schools or is it some sort of urban legend?

  • Should not a libertarian blog seriously propose a system where a certain level of attainment (say a real competence at the 3 R’s) was regarded as a minimum necessary to participate in a modern “democracy” (or whatever we might have) and that anything further was voluntary?

    What we have at the moment is a failing system with increasing amounts of legislation designed to get others (such as universities) to make up for the system’s abject failure.

  • Chris

    Maybe its not quite as silly as it looks. Presumably, if they are meant to be at school, they will not qualify for the dole or other welfare payments until after they turn 18.

  • Does this sort of thing actually get taught in British schools or is it some sort of urban legend?

    Complete urban legend. Complate bollocks in fact.

  • RAB

    Please God the author of your quote Chuck, had just encountered a thicko.
    We have them in droves you know!
    Despite the Govt crowing about our magnificent exam results around September every year, 40% of British children achieve no exam qualifications at all.
    Functionally illiterate.
    To give the kid his due though, to paraphrase and old Morcombe and Wise sketch-

    Look Mush! I got all the right facts !
    But not nessessarily in the right order!

  • veryretired

    We are, indeed, entering an era of great opportunity so far as discrediting the collectivist assumptions that have so badly infected western culture is concerned, but there will be no “magic” issue or tipping point that will suddenly resolve these problems on the side of individual liberties.

    Previously, statist theorists could make many claims for the alleged superiority of their social programs and economic management policies because they were new, exciting reforms whose good intentions and egalitarian objectives seemed laudable.

    That was then—this is now.

    After a century of using the societies of the earth as laboratories for any number of collectivist experiments, the track record is painfully clear, and no amount of rhetoric can obscure the documented results—economic, social, and cultural disaster.

    One of the critical areas in which the many unspoken assumptions of the PC, multi-culti progressive crowd must be challenged is in the educational system. The tragic fact is is that we have allowed a fundamentally hostile ideology to gain control of our children’s educations.

    As a result they are being taught PC mush in place of a rigorous study of the history and culture of the west, and the world, and not being taught many difficult subjects that they will need as our society becomes increasingly based on technology in every area.

    I have long been amused by the idea of my generation, which prided itself on its generational conflicts with our parents and grandparents, confronting the inevitable rejection of many of its own assumptions by our children and grandchildren as they mature.

    Every once in a while, there appears an article bemoaning the fact that the kids in school these days aren’t as “activist” and “politically aware” as we were, and struggling to avoid the obvious answer—these young people have caught our act and rejected it.

    The funniest part is always the absolutely mystified author’s horrified observation that many of the students actually plan on careers in business, and want to be successful by traditional measures of money and status.

    One gets the impression that they expected (and wished for) a campus full of “little Che’s”, and were scandalized when most of the kids just yawned at this kind of political nonsense.

    At any rate, I agree that the generations now enduring the PC, multi-mush educational experience may very well be receptive to another approach, but the hard, dirty work of going to school board meetings and allumni conferences, and winning the endless series of battles over what educational philosophy will reign in classrooms from kindergarten to grad school, will require an enormous amount of effort and resilience.

    My respect and admiration goes out to any man or woman who truly desires to teach a rigorous course of study to our youth, and to any parent who supports such an approach.

    Children will rise to the levels expected of them. Right now, our sights are set pretty low, and results are comensurate with that expectation.

    We must lift up our eyes, and demand that our schools expect excellence in all things, both in theory and in practice.

    The future is sitting there in their seats, waiting to be given the tools necessary to live decent, happy lives as productive adults.

    As the Gospel says, “Which of you, if your child asked for bread, would hand him a stone?”

    The sustenance of the mind is needed every bit as desperately as that of the body. We must do our duty as both parents and teachers.

  • The state usually waits to impose its will by force until a free society has got to the point where what the state wants to achieve is almost already in place.

    Education was not nationalized until most children were going to private schools anyway.The NHS was not established until most people had access to care through private insurance or charity etc.. Smoking was not banned in public places until many property owners had already decided that clean air would attract more custom. Most 17 and 18 yos do now receive some form of full-time education, voluntarily. The logical next step for a statist is to make it compulsory. If gas prices were to rise to the level well hardly anybody drove an SUV, I am confident that the state would seek to ban them.

    Society at large does not yet seem to have a problem with the idea of using state force to enforce their own beliefs and preferences on others. Notice that the article argues that the particular policy in question is a bad idea. It does not put forward the view that the state has not right to involve itself at all in this issue.

  • tranio

    Neville Shute in one of his novels, No Highway I think it was, proposed a multiple voting system. Everyone gets one vote but you get more based on education, living elsewhere in the world for 3 years, serving in the Armed forces, net worth.
    This would counter the ignorant masses somewhat.

  • The UK stats trot out the “5 or more GCSEs”. They do not seem to differentiate between actual GCSEs and the GNVQ qualification that is deemed “equivalent”.

    We should be told.

    I am against educational conscription. It infantilises. It gives more scope for Statist brainwashing. Yes, maybe a few will realise the wrong being performed, as Perry states, but as we live in a Tyranny of the Masses, I doubt that it will result in anything good.

  • Nick M

    A shocking 50% of the populace are below average intelligence!

    Of the rest, only a very small number are smart enough to attend a certain elite educational institution in the East Midlands. Others may go to Loughborough and receive a semblance of an education but we don’t like to talk about them.

    I hope you’re wrong RAB. I really do. But zilch GCSEs at A*-C is utter piggy ignorance. I suppose they could be used as cat food. My sister-in-law has a filthy secret. She is now about to embark upon a PhD in English Lit but on three attempts she didn’t get above a D at GCSE maths! Truly appalling.

    I have on occasions attempted to educate the ignorant masses with a ball-peen hammer. It doesn’t work. They’re just as thick after you hit them.

    In general, on the subject of Hitler, this is what I learned at school:

    Hitler has only got one ball.
    The other is in the Albert Hall,
    His mother, the dirty bugger,
    Cut it off when he was small…

    Repeat ad nauseum. Especially during the German Exchange.

    So, I learned that Adolph H was a mono-testiculate and not in a good, uplifting, cancer charity founding, Lance Armstrong manner either.

    And that was at a Comprehensive.

  • Perhaps I could reminder readers of Samizdata that there exists a collective blog to express opposition to the proposals to raise the school leaving age, at:
    Educational Conscription

    There is an associated petition, and we hope people who feel (as I do) that the proposal represents an outrageous infringement of liberty will consider signing it, or sending a letter to their MP (a pro forma letter is available at the blog).

  • RAB

    Ah Loughborough !
    How many Sports and Geography teachers do we need???
    Saw Jeff Beck there back in the early 70s though
    so they must have had a Social Sec who had a modicum of taste.

  • You’re missing the point slightly; education is really the means by which we teach ourselves the skills we need to realise our minds in a productive and happy way.

    Compulsory school is an attempt to crush the actual mind and prevent it from emerging, by the application of morally repugnant packages which make our continuing progress unpalatable.
    For example, I took a job with a software company where the chief programmer was ‘god’.
    She wouldn’t tell me what she wanted until absolutely all my time had been wasted, and then added poison in the form of statements such as ‘you are not a professional’, so that to continue to exercise my mind in the service of the contract would incorporate this evil into me and actually collapse my (superior) mind.
    She was expert only at hiding her methods from being too obvious.
    As for the rest she was a merely adequate method programmer who borrowed from books and colleagues.

    Now I have to add that the company was a University spin-off.
    This is the method to which all children are supposed to be subjected for 15 years out of their first 18.
    God help them, because it is anti education and furthermore, it is supposed to be.

  • Noel C

    Maybe its not quite as silly as it looks. Presumably, if they are meant to be at school, they will not qualify for the dole or other welfare payments until after they turn 18.

    Unfortunately not, google education maintenance allowance for the awful truth.

    As for Perry’s golden issue, I have to disagree and suggest housing. I’m hip with the kids enough to report that substantial numbers of late twentysomethings working their butts of with no prospect of their own home are actually starting to realise government is the cause of their problems. One can only hope.

  • Noel,

    I think that you are on to something with housing. House prices are high because government won’t allow more houses to be build. It is very simple to get that… even if your education was not very good.

  • Nick M

    I agree 100%. They (the man) has destroyed the education of every bugger in this country.

    I recently spoke to my father-in-law who was a head of biology in a big comp in Cheshire about me becoming a maths/physics teacher. He warned me off. He told me I’d have to teach the national curriculum and that I wouldn’t like that (I wouldn’t). So can’t I attempt to impart the wisdom I learned at three universities, can’t I span the ages and teach of Newton, Maxwell and Einstein. Nah, apparently can I fuck. Nick M is apparently not trusted to teach the subject that he worked bloody hard to learn during seven years at some of this countries better universities. Instead I would have to teach National Curriculum and for some reason my father in law thought that might not float my boat. Well, the way he put it, the boat would be most assuredly be at the bottom of the Irish Sea. Although, apparently I am well enough qualified to arise into the educational stratosphere and become a head at an early age. But that’s not what it’s about really about is it? What it’s really about is getting as many likely young lads and lasses onto degree programs at Russell Group Unis and nothing else matters. Well, nowt but larning them about maths and physics. And, no, I’m not there to ensure “basic numeracy” because that shouldn’t be my job. I know the vector calculus like the back of my hand so basically, “Fuck Off!”. I also know the Tensor Calculus (well some bugger has to) reasonably well and if they think I’m going to teach kiddy-winks how to do percentages and stuff they can fucketh yea off.

    Except, that’s what I’d be contracted to do isn’t it? Ensure the little buggers can add up and work out VAT and the entire grandeur of the Universe, the glory of celestial dynamics, the wonder of The Calculus, the utter gorgeousness of Quantum Mechanics can take a hike because all we care about is that at the end of the day they can work out change.

    I wanna spit blood.

    And if that’s all we ever aspire to teach them that is in fact all they will ever achieve.

  • Noel C


    You are missing out, you could be teaching the new GCSE “Science”, where the physics part of the assessment includes gems of questions such as “How was fog detected before the discovery of electricity?”

    Sample papers are here but I warn you I felt dirty after reading them.

  • Like Laurence Olivier in 49th Parallel, “I know my Calculus”.
    Just what can’t you do by shrinking DELta to nothing?

  • Nick M

    Noel C,
    That really is the living end.

  • This “golden issue” should be thrown on the dung heap. Conscription for any purpose is wrong!

    Would you be willing to spread the word about http://www.draftresistance.org? It’s a site dedicated to shattering the myths surrounding the selective slavery system and building mass civil disobedience to stop the draft before it starts.

    Our banner on a website, printing and posting the anti-draft flyer or just telling friends would help.


    Scott Kohlhaas

    PS. When it comes to conscription, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!