Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Time Is Now Part 2: The Critical Battlefields Part 1

"My center is giving way, my right is retreating. Situation excellent; I attack." -- Marshal Ferdinand Foch, September, 1914

Before we can perform any useful analysis of "where to go from here," we must have a sense for what matters most: a priority list of items to be reviewed, assessed, and addressed. Not every battle in a war is critical. In really wide wars, some battles hardly matter at all, regardless of the attendant loss of life.

Therefore, our first task is to sort the critical battlefields -- the areas in which a victory or a defeat has really mattered -- from those that can be left for later consideration.

A very long time ago, I wrote:

[T]he three legs on which a free society must stand:
  • The education of its citizens, particularly as regards the history of political forms and the thinking behind its own constitution;
  • The ability to communicate freely, privately, and without interference;
  • The possession of weaponry adequate to overthrow the government or to resist its usurpations, should the necessity arise.

Once all three legs have been sawn through, no obstacles remain to totalitarianism. But if even one remains sound, the people have a barrier to the State that the State cannot surmount.

Today in America, one of the legs -- communications -- is almost perfectly intact. There have been incursions, such as the McCain-Feingold Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, and a small number of enactments on such nebulous subjects as "pornography." However, due to the explosion of the Internet and the emergence of other modern forms of communication, in practical terms the citizens are almost completely in possession of the field.

One of the legs -- education -- has been sawn almost all the way through. Government control of education is all but complete. There has been some resistance, most notably by the resolute and vibrant homeschooling movement. However, the State has contrived to regulate even that escape hatch, and may be counted on to intensify those regulations as much as it may. Add to that the immense cost of school taxes, and the margin for resistance appears very thin.

The third leg -- armament -- is a battleground. The struggle is intense; the outcome cannot be predicted with confidence. Unfortunately, highly specious logic used to justify State supervision of private weaponry -- what Internet commentator Thornwell Simons once called "the mystical nuclear weapon exception to the RKBA" -- has been accepted even by the overwhelming majority of firearms enthusiasts. The result is a platform of justification for further incursions on the right to keep and bear arms that Americans will be hard pressed to resist.

The scales appear to be rather evenly balanced.

I continue to believe that these are the essential ingredients for the achievement and perpetuation of a free society. I no longer believe that "the scales" are "evenly balanced," nor that they were so at the time of the cited essay:

  • Education as formally pursued is essentially lost to us, from kindergarten all the way to the highest postgraduate degrees;
  • Communications, which should be interpreted to include all forms of news and opinion dissemination, is also largely in the hands of our adversaries;
  • We're losing the battle for private armament, despite recent Supreme Court decisions.

The schools, including colleges and universities, are conquered territories. The institutional news and entertainment media are similarly in the hands of the Left. The federal and state governments have pursued a brilliant strategy of slicing away firearms rights a bit at a time; the Heller and McDonald decisions and scandals such as "Fast and Furious" have done little to impede them.

It's no longer profitable even to "send a force" to the first two of those theaters. As for the third, the full consequences of the most recent developments have yet to manifest themselves.

Yet education, communications, and armament remain the critical battlefields. The side that prevails on them need not fear developments in any other sector.

Therefore, we must widen those battlefields. On the fields as they stand, our enemies' frontal positions are far stronger than ours, and they offer us no flank at which to strike. We must create a flank for them, and hit it as hard as our resources allow.

Today's focus will be education.

In education, there are two potential "flanks" to be considered:

  • Homeschooling of minor children. Families willing and able to do this evade virtually the whole of the propaganda machine to which young Americans are subjected. Their kids also receive a superior education, including in matters of history and civics that are indispensable to a citizen of a free society.
  • The online university. Higher education, though it has lost some of its panache in recent years, remains an important asset to the American economy. However, college classrooms have largely deteriorated into factories for "social justice" activists. The online alternative offers a potential route around the professorial harangues and peer pressure that make colleges effective transmitters of anti-American slanders and leftist convictions.

Each of these avenues of attack faces limitations and countervailing forces:

The homeschooling movement has been impeded by the economics of the thing, and by the opposition of the "educrat elite." Reserving one parent to educate the kids implicitly sacrifices whatever income that parent could generate outside the home. These days, that's a considerable price to pay, especially given that such a family will be paying taxes to support the government's schools as well.

Alongside that, state departments of education have attempted to regulate homeschooling out of existence, by claiming the power to monitor and approve of setting, instructor, and curriculum: a clear violation of the homeschooling family's Fourth Amendment rights. Organizations such as the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) have done what they can to ward off such intrusions, but with mixed success.

The online university is an "upstart" when it comes to accreditation; the established colleges and universities have labored mightily to prevent it from attaining the accreditation necessary to respectability. Also, it lacks a convenient way to embrace "practicum" elements -- for example, laboratory work -- that conventional colleges and universities can easily accommodate.

The freedom movement's offensive in the education theater should be channeled into these avenues:

  • There are several ways one could assist the homeschooling movement. Of course, a family with minor children should consider it seriously. But persons without minor children also have a stake in this fight, and should participate if they can:
    • By helping homeschooling families financially, perhaps with gifts of textbooks and other necessary materials;
    • By participating in a homeschooling alliance of neighboring families as instructors, researchers, proctors, babysitters, even cooks and janitors;
    • By assisting organizations such as HSLDA to beat back the assaults of the bureaucratized educracy on parents' right to educate their children as they see fit.
  • The online university is still regarded as a novelty. It's opposed by established centers of higher education. Because of those things, and to a lesser extent the practicum shortcoming, capable instructors have been reluctant to move toward it, and employers have been reluctant to trust its graduates. Novelty wears off with time; therefore, if the other skirmishes can be fought and won, respected instructors and subject matter experts will gradually lose their reluctance to participate. The principal needs for winning those skirmishes are money and popular acceptance:
    • Money would help with the acquisition of computers, bandwidth, instructional materials, and potentially with provisions for practicum studies: the sort of thing endowments and alumni donations do for a conventional college.
    • Probationary acceptance by employers of online-university graduates as authentically college-educated would put counter-pressure on accreditation boards to recognize the granters of their degrees.

Substantial success along either of these "flanks" would create a multiplier effect as persons as yet uninvolved with them take notice and decide to try them out. It would certainly create fear and tremors among our adversaries.

These are not magic formulae. (You'll read that here more than once.) Applying them will involve expense, effort, and perseverance. But they do constitute ways to circumvent the Ministries of Truth our governments and the Left have imposed upon us, such that the youngest Americans would have a chance of growing up unpropagandized, unherded, and properly aware of our heritage of freedom.

More anon.


Weetabix said...

Count me in on the homeschooling. ;-)

ΛΕΟΝΙΔΑΣ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ΛΕΟΝΙΔΑΣ said...

The cracks in the foundation of the higher education cartel are already appearing. There is a group of 34 universities, all big, all rich, and accredited. Their faculty members are putting courses online for free. It is growing rapidly. It is called Corsera and it is about to bust the system. It is growing rapidly. There were only 12 universities a month ago.
The end of the cartel is in sight and the greatest risk to a cartel is price cutting by members.
Their classes will still be liberal, but the teachers will not get the kids into the classroom. Their influence will be far less without personal presence and midterms to flunk out conservatives and libertarians.

Mark Alger said...

I have recently come to the conclusion that the public education establishment in America is inimical to the continued good health of the Republic. The evidence is dispositive. Public schools have failed.

This is not an indictment of the concept, but of the perversions of it by forces of our enemies. If public schools could be returned to local control, we MIGHT -- stress that: MIGHT -- be able to recover. But the likelihood of that ranges between nil and nul.

I therefore believe that a goal of We in the Right MUST be the destruction of the public schools by any means a good and moral people can stomach. In their place must come a "system" which places the proper value on education -- both raw knowledge and the skills of process (maths) -- which pedagogy is SUPPOSED to provide, but hasn't for a terribly long time. It must be atomic -- composed of the smallest feasible units, autonomous -- no more bureaucratic leviathans, and teleological -- resembling Heinlein's description of Prof. de la Paz's teaching methods.

There will be, yes, myriad children "left behind." I propose that this will be a slight change from the present circumstance, differing only in the public cost -- it will be much cheaper to have the same illiterate masses out there. And, I submit, opportunity facing those masses will be an order of magnitude greater, for they will not labor under the burden of lifelong toxic indoctrination.

And, as I say, an education will have a proportionately greater value than now.

I have long suspected that large portions of the electorate have held these or similar beliefs -- thus the struggle school levies have from time-to-time faced at the ballot box. Voters have asserted "no sale" and the statists, seeking to capture the hearts and minds of ever-more dependents on the nanny state, have been forced to seek ever-less-legitimate sources of funding for their racket.

And, as their importunings and usurpations have increased, so has the resistance. We follow an asymptote (one hopes) approaching, perhaps, a tipping point. Get ready for a cusp. Be prepared to take advantage of it.