We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Guns, the attack on home schooling, and the growth of the libertarian movement

It is a sad fact that one of the things that causes the libertarian movement to get stronger is other groups in society getting weaker.

Consider Britain’s gun owners. Until recently they were very content, using their guns to attack targets, animals, and even the occasional bad human being. Most of their intellectual effort went into discussing amongst themselves which guns were the best, how to hit targets even more accurately, how to make sure that the only other creatures they shot were creatures they were trying to shoot, and so forth.

Then suddenly the government (worse, almost the entire country) held the gunners responsible for a couple of gun massacres of good human beings and decided to take their guns away from them. Somebody had to take the blame, and the actual perpetrators were already dead.

Suddenly a sublimely apolitical group got politicised. Suddenly they found themselves trying to persuade others of the wisdom and rightness of them being allowed to go on using their guns, which you can’t do only by talking about the technicalities of guns, although God knows they tried that. They found, far too late, that they would have to learn about politics, and in particular about whatever political principles might allow them to keep on owning their guns, or failing that, might one day allow them to own guns again. Thus many persons who formerly cared only about guns, suddenly started to care about things like libertarianism also.

I believe that another group which is about to be policised are the home schoolers, and not just of Britain but of the entire Anglosphere. Everywhere you look, in Britain and in the USA certainly, and I’m sure everywhere else where “education otherwise” is still allowed, efforts are being made to end what appears to professional state educators as a strange and scandalous legal anomaly. On the Libertarian Alliance Forum Chris Tame recently posted a couple of reports (including this one) about a home schooling ruckus in California, which is what got me thinking about this. And a few weeks back there was a little flurry concerning the attempt to smuggle some kind of home schooling prohibition through the Scottish Parliament when no one was looking. (Apologies: I can’t recall where I saw this. It may have been in the Times or Sunday Times, so no links to freely available text would in that case be available.)

Unlike the British gun argument, this one may be semi-winnable. There could be a quite big public row, involving both home schoolers and libertarians, in which the public’s sympathies will be much more evenly divided, and perhaps even rather favourable to the home schoolers. State education is already much criticised, not just because of educational awfulness but because of the sheer physical brutality that so many children are now forced to endure.

In the USA, as I understand things, this debate is already quite far advanced, on account of the USA’s education unions being so rapacious and so bone-headedly unaware of – or unconcerned by – how widely and deeply they are despised (and hence willing to have a public debate that may seriously harm them).

In Britain the push, as with everything else of importance now happening in British politics, is coming from – you’ve guessed it – the European Union. In mainland Europe, home schooling is already pretty much illegal (although comments about and contradictions of that from continentals would be very welcome). For now the “harmonisation” process is causing the continentals also to want to ban British home schooling, if only to prevent any possibility of the British contagion spreading to the continent.

I get the strong feeling that the British home schoolers mostly don’t know what is about to hit them. They still talk about how British law now protects them, which it now does. What I fear they don’t realise is that the legal wind could be about to change sharply against them. (In other words the home schoolers are behaving exactly as the gun people did.)

Alan Forrester of Taking Children Seriously is giving my next Last Friday talk on Aug 30. Maybe he’ll have something to say about all this. (By the way, I’ve been using the phrase “home schooling” here to allude to all opponents of regular schooling. TCS people don’t like any kind of “schooling”.)

If things do take a turn for the worse for the home schoolers (and anti-schoolers), a whole new clutch of libertarian memes will suddenly be flying around furiously, and the homies will be paying these a lot more attention than hitherto.

Fishermen and farmers and butchers and bakers are fine at fishing, farming, butching and baking, but not very good with the chat, not given to reading books. So when the EU messes up their lives or closes down their businesses, they don’t know what to say. The homies are different. Talk – about everything, not just home schooling – they can do.

Win or lose, this row will definitely strengthen the libertarian movement. My bit of it anyway, the bit that does the intellectual stuff.

I’m not especially pleased about all this, just trying understand it.

Comments are closed.