Monday, 19 September 2011

State education: the stable of hobby-horses

I note a good article at Liberal Vision by Tom Papworth, criticising Nick Clegg's stance opposing profit-making in alternative schools (alternative to the bog-standard LEA comprehensives). The hatred of profit-making is one of those strange irrationalities one encounters with centre-leftists, an article of faith, which is difficult to follow back to any coherent principle. States Tom:
"The problem is that somewhere along the line we seem to have forgotten that. For many people, profit is a dirty word. Large swathes of society, including (sadly) large numbers of people who identify themselves as liberal, have internalised the Marxist belief that profit is inherently exploitative: that profit must be made at somebody’s expense. This is particularly odd, because Marx’s belief only stands up if one accepts his Labour Theory of Value, which most people and all liberals would reject out of hand."
My only quibble with Tom would be to point out that no 'out of hand' rejection is needed with regard to the Labour Theory of Value, as it has been properly exploded into smithereens for well over 100 years. Indeed, the failure of Karl Marx to publish the remaining two volumes of his 'magnum opus' Das Krapital has been attributed by some to his realisation that Volume One was fatally flawed by such felonious fallacies.

Elsewhere, every theist's favourite reason not to abandon faith, Richard Dawkins has turned up with the softly-spoken Malthusian David Attenborough to demand strict rules mandating the teaching of evolution to the nation's little ones, and the expulsion of heretical 'creationists' (wherever they hide!)

To the average Joe, this may seem all well and good, but it strikes me as a perfect example of the inherent problem with state-run monopoly schools. Instead of a variety of schools enabling choice, we are to get only one and the same monolithic, homogeneous, state-sanctioned, politically-correct model. Thus, all who have an opinion must seek to seize the controls and impose that opinion on everyone else.

I have never met Dawkins, but I have known equally aggressively atheistical evolutionary biologists, and the funny thing is, in my anecdotal experience, although I cannot fault the depth of their knowledge in the particular subject of their great interest, these same champions of reason manage to hold woefully fallacious opinions in other areas, such as economics.

Now, if Dawkins gets to ride his hobby horse into the school yard, and apply some kind of purity test to the nation's science lessons, when do I get my chance? Because I suspect there are a far higher number of teachers spouting marxist and keynesian ideas without even knowing it, ideas which are incorrect and damaging. Many teachers even self-identify as socialists, or worse still social democrats! Shocking, isn't it?

Of course, no such struggle would be necessary, if freedom were to take a hand. You could send your kids to the Karl Marx School, if you chose, and I'd send mine to the Carl Menger Academy.


James Higham said...

Indeed, the failure of Karl Marx to publish the remaining two volumes of his 'magnum opus' has been attributed by some to his realisation that volume one was fatally flawed by such fallacies.

Now to get TNL and others of the blogging circle to see that.

Trooper Thompson said...


your best bet in that regard is to insert it into the plot of a Dr Who episode.

Angry Exile said...

Evangelistic atheists get on my tits almost as much as actual evangelists and Dawkins is among the most annoying of them, but I do tend to agree with him that science should be taught in science classes - and if it ain't falsifiable then it ain't science. But you're absolutely right that raises questions about other things taught in schools as, aha, gospel. You mention Keynesian economics and Marxism, and they should certainly be on the list, but top of mine would be warble gloaming. It's also taught in science classes, it's adherents treat it as holy writ, there are certain texts that are practically sacred, there are a bunch of profits, sorry, prophets, and since just about any kind of weather event will be taken by someone as proof it's becoming just as unfalsifiable as intelligent design. I suspect the only reason it can't be taught in RE classes is that RE teachers couldn't take it seriously.

Trooper Thompson said...

Whatever tops your list, the important thing is to focus on the real problem: state-run quasi-monopoly, requiring all manner of decisions to be made once at the centre and followed everywhere else - a recipe for trouble.

Angry Exile said...

No argument from me. Most of the statist's sacred cows are just fat useless bulls as far as I'm concerned. In fact I'm struggling to think of one that isn't...

will said...

David Friedman was discussing attitudes toward paid surrogacy on his blog tother day and one of his commenters quite neatly summed up the profit aversion;

"I think a large part of it is people's aversion to combining money/profit with "moral" goods like health/education/medicine/children. As you note, people think gestational surrogacy is OK if money isn't involved. And, look at organs. People are all for donating organs, they promote it and admire it. But let money enter into it, and they're so appalled they'd rather let the sick person die."

It's the completely subjective and irrational 'special exceptions' that make no sense. Healthcare is one such 'moral good' that must never be open to choice and competition. The world would end if something so exceptionally important were left to the market my socialist acquaintance claims. All the while ignoring the fact that the equally importantproduction and distribution of food is (largely) left alone by the state. The history of socialist farming literally killed millions. But the same economic model used in Stalin's supermarkets is supposedly beyond reproach in the nhs cult.

'but some people can't afford it' they reply. Well some people are too visually or socially ugly to find love - should the state redistribute beautiful genes by forcing models to sleep with uglies? It ain't a principle if it can't be universal.