Morality-based Government Should be Zero-Based

Social conservatives often talk about morals and government, but seldom apply the first to the second. “Conservative” thinkers are quite reluctant to throw anything away, even something as terribly counterproductive as collectivist farming or collectivist education, because it is “traditional.”

Libertarians are  more consistent and more radical; recognizing that government is violence, they apply the same logical moral rules to government violence as to private violence, and if morality dictates an abolition of a government practice, they’ll go there; they’ll explore alternatives to violence-based “solutions.”

Libertarians are quite reluctant to accept bad means to accomplish “good ends”. The true end is not the stated end of “some good outcome” alone, but rather, the stated end multiplied by the probability of its actual attainment (which might be zero), plus any actual observable results, which certainly includes the use of those bad means, which are effectively ends in themselves: people violently assaulted, kidnapped, murdered, and otherwise suffering very bad and very real ends. Those who would use violence to effect so-called “cultural warfare” must own up to this implicit violence and admit that it is an inherent part of their agenda.

One of the big fights today is “what shall our children be forced to learn in schools which are funded by the forcible collection of taxes and regulated by the imposition of fines and/or imprisonment, even forced consumption via compulsory attendance and truancy laws.”

“Social conservatives” and “liberals” alike look at a fairly minor aspect – “what our children shall be forced to learn” – and engage in a political tug-of-war over the whole cultural war gambit: phonics versus whole-word reading, pro-gay versus anti-gay, pro-abstinence versus pro- or neutral-promiscuity, and so forth and so on. They never attack the immoral use of force as a means of providing and regulating education.

Consider an alternative setting: what sort of books are in your own home? Only those which you have chosen to acquire. If any of your books oppose your views, they were not forced on you, the choice was not made by somebody else; more likely such books represent your own intellectual curiosity about opposing views.

We have well-established ways of regulating the spread of ideas without the use of force, but have largely abandoned those non-violent ways when it comes to the field of education; 150 years of custom have inured us to the Violence in the System, and we turn a blind eye to it. We have been groomed to accept it, and the conservative mindset fails to challenge that which is “traditional”, even if older, less violent approaches are known to have delivered a good education based upon sound moral principles.

A solid house cannot be built upon unsound principles. The Violence in the System is quite an unsound principle. One may hold together a house of cards by applying countervailing forces to “keep it steady”, but the result is highly unstable; if a bit more force is applied in one direction than another, the tower of cards will topple.

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