Perhaps I went a little overboard?
Posting a huge essay by Tolstoy was a little too much for most people to handle, I’m guessing. I know… homework that’s too hard can be a little tiring and really, who needs to know what some old dead white Russian guy said over a hundred years ago? All I can say is you got one thing going for you: Since this isn’t compulsory public school, you can CHOOSE to not enlighten yourself, and you won’t be punished with a bad grade or a detention.
In the school of life, you can choose to be as enlightened or as ignorant as you wish. Those who choose to become enlightened will take the time to read and think and make connections between what Tolstoy said in the past about tyrannical governments, and what’s going on today. In other words, the people with the most connections will be ahead of the game “educationally” because they took the time to enlighten themselves on something they weren’t assigned to learn by the State.
So don’t go crying about how some people are getting a better education than you or your kids. Some people are taking more liberties with the expansion of their knowledge than you are.
In case you missed it the point of the Skipping School blog is this: Government-run State Schools pour billions of taxpayer dollars into an assembly line model of citizen production. Government Schools do nothing to EDUCATE people… they SOCIALIZE people. State Schools dupe parents into believing their children are being taught to think, gain knowledge, become educated and thoughtfully prepared for the “real world” which–ironically–has been forcibly kept out of their common life experience eight to ten hours a day for twelve years! All I want to do is point this fact out and let you decide if this is what you want for your family.
What you are about to learn today (if you are still reading, and if you are, God bless you!) is something you or your children will never learn in school. It’s just not available. And you won’t learn as much with this post, as you would if you had read my previous post with the full text of Tolstoy’s letter. But this particular point is important, so I’m paraphrasing in the event that Tolstoy’s name gives you a headache and makes you want to watch Discovery or History Channel for a break.
Now, for a more concise look at the meaningful point of Tolstoy’s Letter to Liberals, or “What is to be done?”
Ignore the State
The government in Tolstoy’s day wasn’t allowing people to have much liberty and freedom. The people were complaining. Some thought violence was the key. Some thought that working within the system to make it better was the answer. Neither were working for reasons Tolstoy goes into in his letter. He notes that government will never allow its authority to be undermined. They will anything to keep the people thinking they are making productive changes, and ignorant of the fact that they are not changing things at all:
[Working within the government to bring about change is], in my opinion, even less effective or rational. It is ineffective and irrational because government, having in its hands the whole power (the army, the administration, the Church, the schools, and police), and framing what are called the laws, on the basis of which the [people] wish to resist it — this government knows very well what is really dangerous to it, and will never let people who submit to it, and act under its guidance, do anything that will undermine its authority. [The government will never consent to the people’s real enlightenment.] It will sanction all kinds of pseudo-educational organizations, controlled by itself: schools, high schools, universities, academies, and all kinds of committees and congresses and publications sanctioned by the censor — as long as those organizations and publications serve its purpose, i.e. stupefy people, or, at least do not hinder the stupefaction of people.
Note that State Schools are integral to the stupefying of the people. Think of every nation that devolved into a dictatorship in history, and you’ll find a state controlled education system, by which the youth were institutionalized by the state and not free to become educated outside of the purview of the state. I’m not saying we have that in America. What I am saying, however, is that we are close to a consensus among many Americans that schooling outside of the purview of the state is wrong and in some cases, should be illegal. How soon before that idea becomes actual law?
But as soon as those organizations, or publications, attempt to cure that on which the power of government rests, i.e. the blindness of the people, the government will simply, and without rendering account to any one, or saying why it acts so and not otherwise, pronounce its “veto” and will rearrange, or close, the establishments and organizations and will forbid the publications. And therefore, as both reason and experience clearly show, such an illusory, gradual conquest of rights is a self-deception which suits the government admirably, and which it, therefore, is even ready to encourage.
As long as the self-deception is encouraged, the people will blindly keep working hard against their own self-interests to infringe upon their liberties in the name of the peaceful democratic process.
The point he ended up making towards the end was that if moral people simply stood up, did what was right and ignored the State, then the State couldn’t do anything about it without tipping its hand to the fact that they were oppressive, violent and did not respect human rights.
What is to be done?
What Tolstoy came up with is simple, yet the hardest thing for many people to do:
[People must continue with] the simple, quiet, truthful carrying on of what you consider good and needful, quite independently of government, and of whether it likes it or not. In other words: standing up for your rights, not as a member of [some special government] Committee, not as a deputy, not as a landowner, not as a merchant, not even as a member of Parliament; but standing up for your rights as a rational and free man, and defending them, not as the rights of local boards or committees are defended, with concessions and compromises, but without any concessions and compromises, in the only way in which moral and human dignity can be defended.
And what can government do against such activity? It can banish or imprison a man for preparing a bomb, or even for printing a proclamation to working-men; it can transfer our “Literature Committee” from one ministry to another, or close a Parliament — but what can a government do, with a man who is not willing publicly to lie with uplifted hand, [work within the government, lying in order to get certain laws passed] or who is not willing to send his children to an establishment which he considers bad, [schools among other places] or who is not willing to learn to kill people, [conscripted for the purpose of killing state enemies] or is not willing to take part in idolatry, [the state sanction religion of the time] or is not willing to take part in coronations, deputations, an addresses, or who says and writes what he thinks and feel? By prosecuting such a man, government secures for him general sympathy, making him a martyr, and it undermines the foundations on which it is itself built, for in so acting, instead of protecting human rights, it itself infringes them.
And it is only necessary for all those good, enlightened, and honest people, whose strength is now wasted in revolutionary, socialistic, or liberal activity, harmful to themselves and to their cause, to begin to act thus, and a nucleus of honest, enlightened, and moral people would form around them, united in the same thoughts and the same feelings; and to this nucleus the ever wavering crowd of average people would at once gravitate, and public opinion — the only power which subdues governments — would become evident, demanding freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, justice, and humanity. And as soon as public opinion was formulated, not only would it be impossible to close the “Literature Committee,” but all those inhuman organizations — the “state of siege — against which the revolutionists and the liberals are now struggling would disappear of themselves.
So, what would happen if all parents suddenly stood up, and stood against the practice of compulsory state schooling? What if they started educating their children otherwise? The Public Schools as we know them, would probably not disappear, but they would certainly change. Would they change for the good? I submit they would HAVE to, for if they didn’t, then surely they would disappear, as all things do that are not wanted, needed or worth purchasing — within the free market.
Please read the complete “Letter to Liberals” at LewRockwell.com or my original post, commenting on the letter in full, here. You should also read the book: The Discourse of Voluntary Servitude by Boetie, for more thoughts on ignoring the state.