Saturday, February 05, 2011


Group Humility, Group Ceiling

No compulsory ritual, said Ivan Illich.
I've been seconding him as loudly as I can.

Bread and Wine

The majority do not agree with me that the state has no proper business at all; yet I still wish more agreed that the state has no business mandating school attendance.

Even if I agree that a state had the right to exist which set skill standards for the public (to vote, a citizen must demonstrate literacy, numeracy ...), it does not follow that the state has the right to dictate where one learns what, when, or under whose tutelage.
(When we go to market, does the state dictate how much meat we must buy that day? which brand? at what price?)
(When I entered school already knowing how to read, why wasn't I allowed to go home?)
(When I demonstrated via the GRE that I could read better than 99% of the university faculty,
why didn't they give me the damn doctorate and release me?
(Such degrees are little more than fraternity initiation bullying anyway!)

I've said all that – for over four decades. I've been jailed for it, censored, denied an income, my business and gifts from patrons destroyed. Today I try to add a clarification of a side point:

In opposing state compulsion, I am not opposing compulsion. I grant the mother's right to pull baby back from the fire. I grant the father's right to smack those not pulling the plow in one direction. (I say it's their obligation.) And I concede the right of a family to hire a magician to feed them ritual bread and wine: never mind whether or not I see it doing any good.

Group Humility
We are a social species. I don't object. But we've overdone the group power bit. I want us to back up on that issue, practice a little group humility.

Below a certain threshold conformity is a friend to survival; beyond it, an enemy. I see small societies as having evolutionarily positive rights that large populations forfeit. I don't want to see a billion and a half Chinese telling a billion Indians what to do, when to do it, how to do it, and compelling obedience to this or that guild of professional service experts: all Chinese of course.

I don't want a million Roman Catholics telling two thirds of a million Greek Orthodox how they must do something. Two hundred Cro-magnon telling one Cro-magnon that one must use the right hand to absturge the podex, while circling the left hand over the belly, is none of my business. The US with its media tools seeing that scholars who don't like to see napalm dropped on village girls get silenced is prescribing disaster for all.

But then the public had long lost any right to complain: sitting passive while teachers are murdered, sucking their thumb while degenerate authority mislabels everything.

A word on distinguishing authority from degenerate authority I'll add at IonaArc.

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