Tyrants have always wanted to control the minds of their subjects, which is why the schools are so important for the future of liberty. Once the state gets its claws on the schools, it imposes texts and curricula that enhance its power and advance its ideology. The advocates of statism understand this well, and they are willing to fight violently to maintain and extend their control.
The Europeans are a tempo ahead of us in this very nasty business, but our guys are doing their best to catch up. A recent story deals with American injustice working in tandem with German authorities to thwart a German family’s efforts to educate their own children.
The Romeike family, Christian evangelicals, wanted to homeschool their children, but the German authorities wouldn’t permit it. So the Romeikes came to America (Tennessee, to be precise), where there’s lots of homeschooling, and where a federal judge granted them asylum. The Germans didn’t like that, and the Obama/Holder Justice Department ordered the extradition of the family back to Germany, where, in another recent case, German police dragged off four children from their homeschooling parents. The Justice Department ordered the extradition of the Romeikes on the basis that “banning homeschooling teaches tolerance of diverse views.”
You couldn’t ask for a better example of Orwellian doublespeak. The German state isn’t interested in “diverse views” at all; it went to great effort to compel the Romeikes to deliver their children to the official teachers of the officially approved version of the truth. That version is political correctness written in long words with most of the verbs coming at the end.
The Europeans are steadily advancing toward maximum indoctrination of their youngsters, perhaps inspired by the old dictum, for which the Jesuits are usually credited, “give me a child at the age of seven and I will give you the man.” The most dramatic example comes from France, where the Socialist government is explicitly imposing a new state religion on the country’s schools.
“The French Revolution is not over” is both the title of a new book by Vincent Peillon, the education minister, and the mission statement for that country’s latest experiment with totalitarian democracy, the doctrine of the Terror during the 18th-century revolution. According to Peillon, it’s not enough to simply transform France “materially”; the time has come to remake the French people morally and spiritually. Therefore “we must invent a Republican religion,” and he’s got one: “secularism (laicite’).”
Peillon explains in the video accompanying his book that the values of the past (especially religious ones) have to be guillotined, to be replaced by a new secular ethical code. The schools are the instrument of choice (the new secular ethics will be required study in French schools as of 2015). He calls for “a transubstantiation that works within and for the school, the new church with its new ministers, its new liturgy and its new tablets of law.”
It may sound like a parody, or a desperate attempt to prove Marx right when he said that great events occur twice, first as tragedy and then as farce. But the man and his cohorts in the statist cult are deadly serious. He’s driven by old anticlericalism (“You can’t have a free country based on the Catholic faith”), inspired by the doctrines of political correctness, and armed with “revolutionary” slogans that he believes justify the indoctrination of French schoolchildren, and thereby the creation of a New French Man.
“Parents” are already gone from many French schools, replaced by “legal guardian #1” and “legal guardian #2.” A highly recommended text is entitled Daddy Wears a Dress. It’s all part of the grandiose scheme to create the New Frenchman, politically correct in every way, stripped of individual identity, shaped by the schools.
It’s a revival of the core project of 20th-century totalitarianism, left and right, red and black: the creation of the new (Fascist or Communist) man. Or, nowadays, person.
Back when real history was taught in our own schools and universities, all this would be recognized as the latest version of Robespierre’s nightmarish vision of the Terror. Giuliano Ferrara, the brilliantly provocative Roman editor of il Foglio, summarizes the new holy writ as “conformism on top of ostracism.” Not for nothing has the philosopher Alain Finkielkraut denounced the new doctrine as the product of the “divine Left.” It’s the imposition of political correctness in the name of the General Will, or, as its apologists prefer, the Public Good. Whatever you call it, the new state religion leaves little room for individual As my friend Giulio Meotti says, the new battle in France is between liberty and secularism.
Alas, we’re headed toward the same sort of brainwashing. The Feds recently refused to condemn some very nasty language aimed at pro-Israel students on three California University campuses, wrapping themselves in the saintly language of free speech. But at the same time, the student government at UCLA demanded that the words “illegal immigrant” be banished from the campus.
Step by step, unwanted ideas are extinguished by eliminating the words necessary to express them. “Radical Islam,” and “Islamic terrorism” are very much in the lexicon of taboo phrases, as we can see in the Newspeak-ridden prosecution of Hasan Nidal, the Fort Hood jihadi.
Have you read 1984 recently? Do it. Orwell is the most reliable guide to the doctrines and methods of the latest generation of would-be tyrants.
UPDATE #1: h/t Chet Nagle. Secretary Kerry, perhaps prompted by Valerie Jarrett in the Ministry of Truth, is trying to forbid the use of the word “war” in the Syria debate. “Bombing” yes, “war” no.