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Meanwhile, Back in the Fatherland . . .

January 12th, 2014 - 4:32 pm

I have been pondering various bits of wisdom from James Madison recently, not least this melancholy observation from Federalist 51:

In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. 

It seems to me that it could have been written, not in the 18th century, but yesterday. We’ve done pretty well seeing to the first bit: who cannot contemplate the coercive arm of the government without uneasiness? But what about the second bit? How are we doing about obliging the government to control itself? To ask the question is to answer it.  And Madison’s succeeding observation is equally to the point:

A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.

“Auxiliary precautions.”  What do they look like? It is here that Madison lays out part of his brilliant scheme of balancing the various interests of society against one another so that no one can predominate. “This policy,” says Madison,  “of supplying, by opposite and rival interests, the defect of better motives, might be traced through the whole system of human affairs, private as well as public.” He continues:

We see it particularly displayed in all the subordinate distributions of power, where the constant aim is to divide and arrange the several offices in such a manner as that each may be a check on the other — that the private interest of every individual may be a sentinel over the public rights. These inventions of prudence cannot be less requisite in the distribution of the supreme powers of the State.

Indeed. And there are many examples one might point to close at home that dramatize what happens when those “inventions of prudence” lapse. What brought me up short today, however, was a news story from a friend about a worrisome development in Germany.  The homeschooling movement is a vibrant and growing force in this country. Leftists don’t like it, because it presumes to challenge the indoctrinating powers of the state with the civilizational imperatives of parents, informed by churches, local communities, and moral commitments foreign to the left-liberal narrative.

Leftists — there is nothing “liberal” about them, so I am trying to avoid using that much abused term — leftists in the United States don’t like the homeschool movement, but so far anyway, it has thrived, and is indeed one of only a few bright spots in the story of primary and secondary education in this country.

Things are different in the Fatherland of Germany, where a judge recently ordered that parents may not have custody of their children because “the family might move to another country and homeschool, posing a ‘concrete endangerment’ to the children.”

Got that? Let me repeat it just in case. A German judge took children away from their parents because “the family might move to another country and homeschool, posing a ‘concrete endangerment’ to the children.”

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Top Rated Comments   
When I began homeschooling my children (who are now grown and homeschooling their children) I was amused by the thinly-veiled contempt of those in the education establishment. I was frequently called upon to jury student art shows which would lead to interesting conversations with the educators involved.
The only criticism they could ever level was the old canard of "socialization" which I would easily dissipate with a recitation of my children's communal activities in art, music, sports, etc. They were never convinced because, I believe, that was never really the true concern. Their real objection couldn't be stated without sounding fascist and so they would just rant on about the nebulous "socialization" charge. Over time I came to rebut that charge with my own charge that what takes place in school with its age-restricted classrooms, its group-think and peer pressure mentality, was not "socialization" but rather the quenching of real social development in the child.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
I could kiss you, Roger Kimball. Figuratively speaking, of course.

I once wrote a comment to one of your essays on Christopher Buckley about the difference between a liberal and a leftist. Years ago. And I shout it from the rooftops here. We aid, abet and allow the leftists to hide, mask and camouflage themselves behind the "soft compassion" of "liberalism"...so that totalitarianism can sneak up behind us and garrote away our freedom.

I also wrote a piece called The Inversion Narrative for these pages in which "tolerance" especially in education was precisely inverted from what the Propaganda Machine portrays. There is NO tolerance on LeftistWorld for any opposing viewpoint.

I wrote that piece and its companion piece years ago.

Today, I bear witness to what the Propaganda Machine has wrought in the intervening years, leftism IS totalitarianism and tyranny abounds. Truth is vaporized. The wall protecting us from government abuse has been blown apart.

And there are not just commenters on these pages...but "authors" and weekend warrior "editors" who intentionally water down the reality, call the identification of tyranny "hyperbole" and those who point at it "hysterics".

On these very pages...the mask donned by totalitarians is kept in place and "dressed up" in concern troll finery...helping to disguise intent. "Can't they just be 'wrong'," they mewl.

So, there is today's question. Can't this judge who stripped children from parents..."just be wrong"?

If one cannot answer that immediately...one will not likely ever stop calling leftists "liberal".
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
Leftists — there is nothing “liberal” about them, so I am trying to avoid using that much abused term...

Spread the word.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (61)
All Comments   (61)
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The Left started by claiming that homeschoolers needed to be interfered with, on the basis of "competence" - parents were not professional educators, so the academic performance of the children would be harmed. Then studies of homeschool students showed higher performance on standard testing....

So the claim next came to "socialization", closer to what they were after but shaded - students would not be equipped to integrate with other people even if they were smart and well-learned. Then studies showed that the homeschool kids were very adept at working with others, showed emotional maturity above non-homeschool peers, and had better self-discipline in higher education. Colleges started happily accepting homeschooled students since they made the college performance look good....

Now the cat is out of the bag, and American leftists sound off with the same language as this German judge. The "problem" is the differing social values being taught, commonly, within homeschooling households. This drive to ban or regulate homeschoolers is parallel to what leading Atheist philosophers like Daniel Dennett are calling for - the State needs to "educate" public school children on religion, shaded of course from the Leftist/Atheist worldview on such things....

Yes, we are one brief step away in America, even with a different culture than Germany. "Liberal" has been replaced by "Progressive" for Leftists, not because they need a new label to "cleverly" continue to conceal themselves - it is because they feel safe to operate in the open now. Thus, let the public reclaim the word "Liberal" - the Left never had use for such ideas anyway...
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
LOL.......hey...they're GERMANS......you can change the name of the cops from Gestapo to Stazi to whatever......change the regime from National Socialist to Democratic Republic Communist to Christian Democrat.............same sheeet, different generation.........Buwahahahaha........... )'(
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
Just for the record, that guy is believed to be August Landmesser. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/August_Landmesser
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
I would correct Roger in one respect. He says that liberals are not liberal about anything. I would add that they are very liberal with other people's money... And then pat themselves on the back for being compassionate and morally superior.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
He didn't say liberals are not liberal...he said leftists are not liberals.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
Malkmus: er ist zum mausemelken.

(Priceless German expression for exasperation: "he/it'd get you to milk mice".)
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
This has an East German feel to it. I wonder how much the East Germans have pulled the culture of West Germany back toward authoritarianism in the last 20 years.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
The root problem, as in the 1930s, is that Germans are sheep. If a judge tried to do that in this country (to a nondysfunctional family) he would count himself lucky to be only tarred and feathered.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
ACtually, the deep attachment of Germans to law and order may have historical roots, specifically in the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648) in which present-day Germany lost about 25-40% of its population, mostly to rogue gangs of mercenaries and to the epidemics that followed in the wake of the slaughter they wrought.

I forgot who made this argument originally, but the traumatic experience may have engrained in the German psyche the idea that order, any order, is to be preferred to chaos.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
Somewhat ironically, Jewish tradition says the same thing.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
“the family might move to another country and homeschool, posing a ‘concrete endangerment’ to the children.”

And putting them in foster homes (or whatever they are called in Germany) didn't harm them? (They are back home now? Story a bit confusing on that part.) Oh, I get it, they were at Youth Camp for those three weeks.

(Wonder what France thinks of this dis on their liberty ;- ) ).
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
Remember when the Australians forced Aboriginal children into state schooling...

That is now seen as a crime against humanity, a racial and cultural crime.

This is very similar.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
That's because Racism! But if you do it to everybody, it's not racism.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
Not just the Australians - we did the same with Native Americans - forcing them into state schools "for their good." But with Liberals - we can't help them with facts (factually right), but whatever "feels right". They can't see the cognitive dissonance in their reasoning - because they are emotive only.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
“the children would grow up in a parallel society without having learned to be integrated or to have a dialogue with those who think differently and facing them in the sense of practicing tolerance.”

That same quote caught my eye.

The irony has a distinct harsh metallic taste to it when you realize that the Islamic population in Germany, which has a clearly defined religious and ideological foundation specifically and unapologetically at odds with the "western civilization" of Germany and Europe, will overwhelm Germany in the next decades unless something is done. Talk about a "parallel" society.

So is Germany undoing the madrasses? No. They are teaching Islam in their public schools now so there will be more "dialogue" and "tolerance."

And Christian and other homeschoolers? Condemned as a threat to the welfare of their very own well educated, well socialized, socially responsible children.

(If they are serious about want to preserve Germany, western civilization, dialogue and tolerance perhaps Germany should try -- mmm -- deporting the Muslims. Concentration camps like they used for Jews, gypsies and other riffraff being so passé. /s)
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
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