Friday, November 12, 2010

A Long Campaign of Education

The feature article in Issue 9 of The Voluntaryist is an edited excerpt from a book published in 1896 by Francis Dashwood Tandy. The book is titled “Voluntary Socialism.” (Carl explains the title in his introductory remarks. Also, the original version of this entire book is available online here.)

Carl chose the chapter on Methods where the author talks about various means that could be used to reach the goal of a voluntary society. Tandy explains in this chapter why revolution and political action won’t work and his reasoning matches up with current Voluntaryist thought. He then discusses the benefits of nonviolent resistance. (NOTE: Tandy uses the term “passive resistance,” but Carl edited this to the more modern “nonviolent resistance.”) Here is an excerpt that certainly appeals to all Voluntaryists:

Nonviolent resistance can never pass a law. It can only nullify laws. Consequently, it can never be used as a means of coercion and is particularly adopted to the attainment of Anarchy. All other schools of reform propose to compel people to do something. For this they must resort to force, usually by passing laws. These laws depend upon political action for their inauguration and physical violence for their enforcement. Anarchists are the only reformers who do not advocate physical violence. Tyranny must ever depend upon the weapon of tyranny, but Freedom can be inaugurated only by means of Freedom.

Tandy seems quite enthused about the possibilities of nonviolent resistance and uses the example of the Quakers refusing to serve in the army during the Civil War. However, he also points out that nonviolent resistance on its own isn’t going to be nearly as effective without accompanying education.

And the biggest educational hurdle is society’s belief in the State, which is an abstract idea that exists only in our heads. This is the essence of the problem and why it’s so hard to change. Tandy writes:

The State Is king only because we are fools enough to stand In the relation of subjects to it. When we cease to stand in the relation of subjects to it, it will cease to be king. So that in order to abolish the State, it is necessary to change people's ideas In regard to it. This means a long campaign of education.

We have more than an entire century between the publishing of this book and the publishing of this blog post. A lot has happened since then. How are things different? How do the various events of the 20th century change or validate what he says?

We certainly still have the vast majority of people believing in the state. This belief, this superstition lives on in most people’s minds.

How do we battle something that is inside people’s minds?

Education is the only way and so far I'm wondering if we aren't just spinning our wheels because the focus has been on trying to re-educate. AFTER the idea is settled like concrete in our minds. Once that happens it’s hard to break out.

Maybe we need to focus our educational efforts on ways to make sure the idea doesn’t get enough traction into into minds of the young in the first place. How can we do this?

Homeschooling or some free form of institutionalized private school (which I’m not sure exists) is one obvious option but I also want to mention three examples I’ve also had some personal involvement with that seem like good attempts to help jump this hurdle.

One is Brette Veinotte, who hosts a podcast called School Sucks, where he brings down the illusions of our government-controlled education system. His main intended audience is teenagers but his podcasts are worth a listen no matter what your age.

The second example is Stefan Molyneux of who is trying to educate people BEFORE they become parents so they can raise children without such mind baggage.

My last example is the more enlightened younger crowd itself trying to educate. Pete Eyre, Jason Talley and Adam Mueller have been traveling around the country in an RV, connecting and engaging with the younger crowd. The three of them participated in the Motorhome Diaries Project and as we speak Pete and Adam are still on their current Liberty on Tour RV project.

It is indeed a long campaign of education but these are just three examples of things I’ve observed that make me feel as if more positive change might begin to occur.

What do you think? Do you agree that more attention should be focused on reaching the young? Do you have any ideas or are you currently working on a project that you would like to share?


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the love Debbie! So awesome to be grouped with such great folks and projects.

Keep up the excellent work yourself. I've said it before but I'm envious of your "Debbie and Carl" project, both for personal education and as a way to disseminate these ideas with others.

Paul said...

Another great blog post, Debbie!
If everyone who gave lip service to libertarianism or anarchy took their children out of school and homeschooled them we'd be much further down the road than we are now. If you believe in freedom, why send your kids to be indoctrinated in the government schools for 6 or more hours a day, for 13 years? Do you think that a few minutes spent with your children in the evening will undo the harm done while you left them in the hands of the child mind molestors????

Ned Netterville said...

Thanks for the blog, Debbie. I think you're prejudiced in favor of home schooling, but then I also think your onto something.

So, for you and your readers info: The Ludwig von Mises Institute is having a one-day seminar in economics for HS students this Friday, Nov. 19th. It is free, although lunch is $8.00. It is going to be available both at the Mises headquarters in Auburn, Alabama, and also live on the webcast.