How the State Stole the Minds of the Children

By Mason Mohon | @mohonofficial

Everyone knows the old saying ‘the children are the future.’ The statement has made appearances in books, movies, political messages, and online articles. It is so widespread because it is so obviously true. The children are young right now, and when the rest of us have died off they will remain. Every generation will have its time of influence. This means that if you want to control the future, you are going to want to have control over the children.

One institution has gone to further lengths than any other to influence the children. That institution is the state. The state has gone to such great efforts because it realizes that for it to exist in the first place public opinion must be in favor of its existence. After all, the state is an institution that requires mass-exploitation to exist. It steals the wealth of its citizenry to fund all of its projects. If one refuses to be expropriated, they are put in jail under the threat of violence.

If an institution decided to steal a portion of the money of all the local individuals, there would be a revolt and such an institution would be torn apart. What that institution must do is get the public opinion on its side. It has various means of doing such a thing, but one of the best ways is to hire intellectuals to “educate” the population in its favor. As Murray Rothbard explained in Anatomy of the State:

For this essential acceptance, the majority must be persuaded by ideology that their government is good, wise and, at least, inevitable, and certainly better than other conceivable alternatives. Promoting this ideology among the people is the vital social task of the “ intellectuals.” For the masses of men do not create their own ideas, or indeed think through these ideas independently; they follow passively the ideas adopted and disseminated by the body of intellectuals. The intellectuals are, therefore, the “opinion-molders” in society. And since it is precisely a molding of opinion that the State most desperately needs, the basis for age-old alliance between the State and the intellectuals becomes clear. (p.20)

The masses do not come up with their own ideas because that is not an easy thing to do. People have jobs and families and responsibilities in their lives. They do not have the time to think through every major philosophical and ethical question, so they defer to the intellectual experts within society. The state seizes this opportunity and puts its own intellectuals at the forefront of educational institutions.

These intellectuals agree to such an arrangement because they get much security out of it. On the free and open market of intellectual competition, sloppy reasoning or a deliberate lie could be career ending. But when you have the so-called legitimacy of the state to fall back on, you can secure your position as an intellectual.

Even Marx agreed that such a relationship existed between the ruling political class and the public intellectuals. When Rothbard and Marx come into agreement on a subject, chances are it has some serious weight to it.

Going back to the children, we see that the state has an incentive to take control of the education system. It can influence the current adult generation and take over the minds of the next one all at the same time. As Hoppe explains in his chapter on public support in A Theory of Socialism and Capitalism:

Thus, all states—some more extensively than others, but every state to a considerable degree—have felt the need to take the system of education, for one thing, into their own hands. It either directly operates the educational institutions, or indirectly controls such institutions by making their private operation dependent on the granting of a state license, thus ensuring that they operate within a predefined framework of guidelines provided by the state. Together with a steadily extended period of compulsory schooling, this gives the state a tremendous head start in the competition among different ideologies for the minds of the people. Ideological competition which might pose a serious threat to state rule can thereby be eliminated or its impact considerably reduced, especially if the state as the incorporation of socialism succeeds in monopolizing the job market for intellectuals by making a state license the prerequisite for any sort of systematic teaching activity. (p.183)

In the U.S., the state has provided public schools available to all citizens. It then decided that it should be compulsory for all children to attend a school. If they do not attend a public school, they must instead attend a school that the state accredits. Otherwise, the state will not deem the student to be a graduate of K-12 education. To become a credited educator, one must meet the state’s requirements. As a result, the state has a monopoly on the intellectual foundations of all primary and secondary education. With its newfound monopoly, what will it put into the minds of our children? Murray Rothbard explained that it would create uniformity, obedience, and collectivism:

Furthermore, it is inevitable that the State would impose uniformity on the teaching of charges. Not only is uniformity more congenial to the bureaucratic temper and easier to enforce; this would be almost inevitable where collectivism has supplanted individualism. With collective State ownership of the children replacing individual ownership and rights, it is clear that the collective principle would be enforced in teaching as well. Above all, what would be taught is the doctrine of obedience to the State itself. For tyranny is not really congenial to the spirit of man, who requires freedom for his full development.

Therefore, techniques of inculcating reverence for despotism and other types of “thought control” are bound to emerge. Instead of spontaneity, diversity, and independent men, there would emerge a race of passive, sheep-like followers of the State. Since they would be only incompletely developed, they would be only half-alive.

One may say that Rothbard’s view of the system is ridiculous and does not accurately characterize the modern education system. He is spot on though. Since when has a public school civics class taught that the state is a monopoly on violence? Since when has a public school economics taught that the Federal Reserve spawns the horrendous business cycle? They never do. Since when has a public school history class taught that FDR’s New Deal was a bad thing? Since when has a public school environmental science class taught that there can be free-market solutions to environmental issues?

They do not! And they will not as long as the state has a monopoly over these intellectual underpinnings. The state trains its students so they can pass a standardized test, which only begs that they follow instructions. This is in direct opposition to a culture of individuality and creativity. The mind of a child does not fall victim to the biases and heuristics of the adult mind. It can branch out and think outside the box. But our schools shut that down in favor of itself. Vance and Pettegrew explain the indoctrination:

In 2000 Clinton created the National Education Standards and Improvement Council for teaching American history. None of the 31 standards mentions the U.S. Constitution; the National Standards Advance Placement history exam also politicized American history in a highly progressive manner. Revisionist history books represent the horrors of the American revolutionists and their colonial oppression. No period of American history is being celebrated; instead the historians have apologetically presented our forefathers as war mongers and racists. We foresee the day when the Constitution will be burned in effigy because so many authors were slave owners. Science exists in a sustainability vacuum where climate change is presented as gospel in place of the scientific truths of the elective courses in Physics. States have banned classic literature for its “incendiary” themes including Huckleberry Finn, The Great Gatsby, Moby Dick, Catcher in the Rye;while age appropriateness is certainly a valid concern, an outright ban is unconstitutional. As a by-product of this censorship, Yale freshmen recently petitioned faculty to remove the “nondiverse” English literature of Shakespeare, Dickens and Bronte from the required curriculum.

We must save children from this education system. As a young student myself, I have been able to save my mind from this indoctrination by reading political, philosophical, and economics literature on my own time. I recommend that all other public school students do the same to bring their minds out of the indoctrination machine.

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