Liberty and Truth – Why Statists should Bear the Burden of Proof

Liberty and Truth – Why Statists should Bear the Burden of Proof

By Duncan Whitmore

During the admittedly few years in which I have been writing on Austro-libertarian topics, one matter on which I have not put pen to paper is the justification for liberty as a fundamental political principle. I have spent much time pointing out the effects and implications of liberty (and of alternative orders) on a wide range of issues from free trade to sound money, from law to culture, and from immigration to the NHS; for many readers, these will, I hope, be persuasive. But what is the one, big reason that elevates liberty head and shoulders above all forms of statism and socialism as the just cause towards which we should strive? Which argument would blow out of the water any attempt to establish tyranny and despotism? Why have I never attempted anything of this magnitude?

One reason for this apparent omission is that I am yet to think of something that I could say on the topic that has not been said elsewhere, and better. Rather than wasting the reader’s time by repeating what has been written before, I prefer to confine my own writing to matters on which I feel as though I am making at least some kind of new contribution, however small.

To be frank, though, the overriding reason derives from an intuitive sense of repulsion triggered by interfering do-gooders and busybodies: that is, if I am getting on with my life peacefully and quietly, my instinctive reaction to the appearance of some prying meddler is that he should mind his own business. Moreover, I do not see this as a one sided obligation: I am quite willing to return the favour by minding my own business when it comes to the affairs of other people. In fact, I couldn’t care less about what other people are doing with their own lives so long as it isn’t bothering me. Such an instinctive “live and let live” attitude is, no doubt, the initial impetus that drives most libertarians towards the philosophy of liberty.

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Green Paper

David Davis

This is a day of minor observations about small things. I feel I want to say things about education this afternoon.

This matter which I will relate was commonplace in the early 1960s. Even in “State” schools, whose teachers still thought they were there to pass knowledge on, or at least some of them did.

When I was a young teenager at school, if you did a piece of either homework (it was actually called “prep” then by us, and you did some between 6.15 and 7.30 pm at school, before going home if you were not a boarder, to do the rest before tomorrow am) or classwork that fell below your recognized usually-achievable standards – and you were /told/ what these would be as required-  you would be commanded to redo the work on “Green Paper”, perfectly, for resubmission to the relevant master. Otherwise, you would not be classed in your class ratings for the “Tri-Weeklies”. There were four of these per term. If you missed a “Tri-Weekly” in all subjects fully…..

“Green Paper”, which was of a particular shade and was lined and punched and of Foolscap size – so you could not buy it at Pullinger’s “the stationers” in the town – could only be collected, in individual sheets of the prescribed number for the work, from your Housemaster. He would note how many sheets you were commanded to ask for, which master it was for, and which subject, and by when (usually tomorrow) and would note your marks from the failed-piece. You had to sign for these sheets.

If you “got” three Green Papers (over all subjects) in one tri-weekly, you would then go on “Satis”. You might be beaten as well by the Housemaster or the House Tutor, at his or his discretion, especially if you were thought to be “intelligent and lazy”. (Boris Johnson types please note.) Potential officers in the Prussian Army would have jumped over the wall by this time and buggered off to their favourite peasant-girls, in disgust, at their views of this attempted humiliation. ”

“Satis” meant that you had a brown _Blauschein_ thingy handed to you, with all the lessons you had to go to marked on it in a grid, for the next three weeks (tri-weekly) and each master (all of them, for all subjects) had to sign it to the effect that you had performed “satis”factorily in his lesson. Each time,  it made you late as you had to queue up to see him at the end-bell of each lesson, before moving on to another building: (The boys moved and the masters stayed put then.) It identified you to the other boys as a person who needed watching. Some would withdraw the hem of their garment from you, especially the clubbable popular convivial not-very-bright-but-politically-able-boys, whom everyone wanted as their friends.These boys, who are now in their 60s all very rich and relaxed in their old age, did not want to be associated visibly with other people’s failures: that is only right and natural. It was a lesson in life.

It bloody made you perform.

If your “Satis” card was in order at the end, and you had not acquired any more Green papers, then the record of the previous Green Papers you had obtained was expunged.

I am not suggesting that a libertarian education system – if that is not indeed a tautologial notion – would invoke such a thing as this system for making people remember things learned. But if there was a Free Market in Schooling, then some places might go for this method, as in a “That’ll Teach-‘Em!” strategy. I fully expcet that the children of people like Tony Blair, the Milibands, Peter Mandelson (he has children, but he is just dissembling for the camerae) and Harriet Harman would go here.

The problem today of course is that there is no failure and no success. Everyone has to be equally “advantaged”, and as well the “curriculum” contains no content of actual factual use or relevance. So I suppose they don’t need Green papers then.

Wikipedia, the modern British Nazi-State, and children’s learning

David Davis

The internet helps to create the largest library in the history of the world, and then along comes “OFQUAL”.

We’re the government: let’s find out what people want to know and how, and tell them it’s wrong….tell them to use the Met Office and Hansard instead!”

I am already fed to the back teeth with stories of teachers trumpeting “you musn’t use Wikipedia, because anybody can edit it”. This smells to me of British GramscoFabiaNazis being pissed off at the fact that their neoMarxist bedfellows can’t any longer control the content or flow of knowledge and information.

It’s no use giving essay-writing projects to average British State-(dis)Educated schoolchildren, not to say even University students, in this centuryas things stand. they have not been given, and I say this is on purpose, the thinking and thought-planning skills needed for constructing arguments and explanations in the first place.

For example, the entirety of the British-State-Primary school years are wasted. This is functionally from age 4 or 5 to about 11, when these particular skills, based on rigorous grammar and the meaning of words, should be put in. Designing and colouring posters about “healthy foods” and “slavery”, using keywords and zazzy pictures, is no good at all. they are reading about “Floppy” who is a dog that lives in a multicultural rural village community, and the child-owners of which dog are of indeterminate gender by name and by appearance. The dad wears a polo-neck a lot of the time, (like Carl Sagan in the 70s when this was respectable.)

Here is an illustration of what I think I could achieve…By age 11, and faced with the question /Was Haig the Butcher of the Somme? Use sources C to F to explain your view, in four paragraphs of six lines each/, they should be able to not type in to Google /was haig the butcher of the somme/ but these sample phrases I have crafted instead, in order, and have in fact tried on an intelligent 11-year-old after about two hours in total of instruction in how to think:-

(1) /Somme military “grand strategy” – [ = as in ‘minus’ or excluding the word] butcher/

(2) /Verdun relieve pressure French 1916 – [ as in minus] “General John French”/

(3) /Haig attrition “trench warfare” “modern industrial nation” + artillery/

(4) /New army kitchener “civilian soldiers” Accrington/ (or + “pals” as an additional search)

I ask readers who are old enough to come up with either confirmation or refutation of the idea that averagely bright State-educated children in Britain in the 1950s could have understood what the above engine-strings meant (on being told how Google works for about 5 minutes) and would have been able to effectively craft their own.

The enmity on the part of the State (dis)educationists is IMHO based on their full knowledge of what they themselves have been doing. They have on purpose hollowed out and degraded (and corrupted what was left of) the the body of knowledge which ought to be part of everybody’s folk-inheritance – as Brian Micklethwait often says – “IN A GOOD WAY”. They have replaced it with a set of beliefs which the structure of learning of which they approve compels one to conform to, as there are no other answers allowed. To me, this is Nazism applied to education, as described by William Shirer in “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich”, in his fairly-early-on chapter about the subversion of the schools and universities there.

Obviously, it would be clumsy and gauche of a student to simply copy and paste a tract from somewhere, without even bothering to format it correctly to his/her document style. Even I am not this bad here on the blog, as that! The poor bastards only do that because, as they explain sorrowfully to me often, they “DON’T KNOW WHERE TO START”…That to me and you says they have not been shown how to think about how to ask for, then to sift, data. Perhpas they even have no data… (and who’s fault is that then?)

Instead of one-dimensionally-punishing untrained pupils (for that is what they are – untrained – and whose fault is that then?) for this, simply explain that it is _/OK/_ to get stuff from other sources, _/IF/_ you (a) say where from, and (b) you understand the content of what you have put up. (Oh, and we will test you on it next week to make sure you do understand it!)

I know! That’s a newspeak term for a “marketing director”!

David Davis

Marissa Mayer is just one of those – what’s the beef?

She is described as

vice president for search products and user experience

But that just translates as “Marketing Director”. Sorry!

Nothing to see here then.

As marketing directors go, she is very pretty overall, but a bit blonde for my taste, so I’ll pass. I can say these things and not be sacked, for I am a Masterless Man.

However, that does not detract from the clear success and acumen of the Google people, including her obviously, in doing a very good imitation of taking all the geeks’ precious things, which I love to do, and giving them to everyone, which I also love to do.

And if Google simultaneously translates everything in every language, for everyone, into his own, then one of the main anti-cultural beefs about the Anglosphere, which is that it is “hegemonic”, can be laid to rest in the slime to which it belongs.

And who invented Google?

Truancy: and the reason is…

…that the “National Curriculum” totally outdoes even the Daily Mirror in the department of uttermost boring triviality, and unfitness to be termed a “knowledge-delivery-system”. It is a self-amplifying socialist outdoor-relief-system for increasing education bureaucracy and spending.

David Davis

If you remove all semblence of interesting knowledge – along with anything that helps one’s ability to marshall facts and opinions, let alone distinguish one from the other – from what schools teach, then you will get pupils deciding it’s less depressing for them if they just don’t turn up any more. Frankly, I don’t blame most of the poor little buggers. With of course 50 years of hindsight, I’d be turned off dead by most of what they have to “learn” today. It’s all dressed up as “child-centred” and “relevant” and “interactive”. But to pass the exams, you have to use the words in the Vulgate and tick the right boxes.

Sean Gabb had something to say about truancy a few momths ago, here.