Teach Your Children Well, Part I

Column by tzo.

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Introduction and Disclaimer

It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men. ~ Frederick Douglass

In previous essays, I have put forth the idea that in today's society, most people have had at least a portion of their rational faculty damaged by the coercive institutions that are in place, and that repairing this damage is difficult, as it is often not even acknowledged to exist. I have also alluded to the strategy of changing society for the better by placing information into the next generation’s hands that can help them stay on track and avoid having to later deprogram the indoctrination in which they will be immersed.

I have generally held that government is the root of all the various institutionalized coercive institutions in society, and so while attacking this ideology by pointing out its logical inconsistencies and its unethical basis is a fine start, those ideas can perhaps only firmly take hold if (a) all the other non-government-related logical inconsistencies commonly taught to children go out the window with them; and (b) all the other non-government-related domination institutions (any hierarchical organization that uses force and/or deception to dominate members who are on lower rungs) often imposed upon children are also discredited.

If you criticize the government for logical inconsistencies while being logically inconsistent in other areas, and if you criticize the government for using coercive force and deception while allowing other similar domination institutions to stand uncriticized, then these government criticisms may not be taken seriously by the child, and rightfully so.

Government is actually a subset of the annoyingly persistent "external authority" meme, and that—underneath it all—is the real root that needs striking. A child may become exposed to multiple sources of “external authority” and may quite reasonably consider all of them to be of the same archetype, and so an attack on government alone while allowing exceptions for the other logically-parallel institutions may not make too much sense.

And that’s a problem, because children quite naturally begin life as relentlessly logical beings, seeking answers to absolutely everything. Why? Why? Why? And if you try to slip one past them, you will get That doesn't make sense!

This is a feature, not a bug. But this natural tendency can be crushed through constant exposure to logical inconsistency and forced, non-thinking compliance to “authorities” of various stripes. This is in fact the status quo in today’s society.

Preventing this “external authority” root from taking hold in children is tricky business. After all, parents are themselves external authorities that have been "imposed" on the child, and if this state of affairs is perfectly natural and just, then why wouldn't all other forms of external authority be likewise natural and just? It is easy to see how authority can be a confusing concept and how children—and ultimately, adults—can be taken advantage of by those who claim to wield it. So how—and more importantly, why—should a child differentiate between a supposed legitimate parental authority and all the others?

But first the disclaimer part: This is not meant to be a lecture, just my own thoughts and observations, and I invite feedback because I know full well that I’m just winging it here. I am simply trying to think through and work out on the fly all the stuff that wasn't covered in the manual while I raise my own daughter. I understand that folks get riled up quickly when someone gives unsolicited suggestions concerning their “personal life and beliefs,” AKA government, religion, and family, and while many believe the latter two have nothing to do with the first, I believe that family and religion are often (no, not always) facilitators in the acceptance of government “authority.”

Authority, Revisited

I would like to take a moment here to differentiate between the types of authority that apply to this subject, as the differences are vitally important.

Authority: The word itself without any adjectives denotes legitimate, innate, individual, internal authority that can be shared through voluntary delegation but never surrendered.

Parental Authority: The only form of legitimate external authority, justified by the necessities involved in helping a developing human being evolve into a fully-functioning, self-supporting individual. Notice this is a temporary authority, as once the child becomes an adult, she no longer has any ethical obligation to obey parental commands.

Authoritarian Authority: Assumed external authority that purports to legitimize the initiation of force against an individual is an illegitimate authoritarian authority. If I don’t use the adjective “authoritarian” when I refer to these thugs, I will place “authority” in quotes to show that it is an illegitimate claim.

Cult Authority: Religions depend upon mysticism, fear, and guilt to gain control of a person’s will through a process akin to brainwashing. This process works best when begun at an early age, before a child is able to clearly discern reality from fantasy (think Santa Claus). Especially when backed by parents, superstitions can be planted deep within a person during her impressionable childhood years and may be quite difficult to extract later on. Authoritarian authorities borrow many cult authority strategies in their quest to gain control over the minds of the people and to move the force into the background.

Command and obey is the core structure of any domination institution, whether it is authoritarian backed by force or cult backed by deception or any combination thereof.

The problem we are dealing with here is that naïve people grant authority to authoritarian and cult authorities because they truly believe those “authorities” to be legitimate. “Teach your children well” is a strategy designed to eliminate this dangerous naïveté and to remove the illegitimate power these domination institutions currently hold.

Running The Gauntlet

After children are born and begin the process of growing up, they quite naturally see their parents as authority figures. Especially when children are very young, they absolutely need someone to help them, protect them, guide them, and make many decisions for them.

The idea is that as they mature, children gradually take on responsibilities for themselves until they reach adulthood. From that point on, there is no reason to believe they need any type of parental authority in their lives in order to thrive and survive—they become independent human beings.

Parents necessarily delegate their natural and temporary authority to many other grownups along the way. Very often the child cannot discern any substantial difference between parental and non-parental authority, and many of those non-parental authorities will later make a lifelong, permanent claim that the child may assume is natural and justified even as she becomes an adult.

Let's take a look at some of these non-parental authorities that very often get thrown into the mix.

If parents teach religious beliefs to a child, she may be taught that there is an all-seeing, all-knowing, invisible “authority” that is not only in charge of her, but of her parents as well. She will observe the parents treating this supernatural “authority's” spokespeople with great deference and reverence in church, and so it only makes sense that these human beings must also be vested with powers of great authority. The warm feelings of community and belonging that may be associated with the church experience are tied to fear, guilt, and superstition. Questioning faith through the use of the rational faculty is strongly discouraged, and nonconformity comes at the social cost of losing those comforting religious-community connections.

This emotional-blackmail strategy provides leverage for the cult authority, and technically is not coercive, but is actually more influential than brute force. The human social animal is highly influenced by peer pressure, and the combination of superstition indoctrination on a young person coupled with the threat of losing personal connections can be quite sufficient to persuade that person to buy into the system. By all accounts, it has a high degree of success in lasting an entire lifetime.

No wonder authoritarian authorities borrow this strategy of getting the oppressed to agree to buy into their own oppression, and no wonder that the first four letters of “culture” are what they are. Moving on….

Now it's off to school and the child sees her teachers as another collection of authority figures. And while the first few years may tend to expose the child to teachers who are more caring and nurturing, echoing the ways of loving parents, gradually this gives way to teachers who more often than not become command-and-obey boundary enforcers who express the kinder and gentler features to a much lesser extent.

And over the years the teachers continue to pile on “authority” after “authority” in their lessons. Police officers are there to protect us and to enforce the law and must be obeyed. The powers of the government are defined by the “authority” of the Constitution. And the Constitution's “authority” grants “authority” to the elected officials who “serve” the citizens. These “authorities” create the “laws” and collect the necessary taxes and make the important decisions that keep society in order. They are to be revered and obeyed, as are the “authoritative” abstractions they create and stand for, AKA "The Laws of the Land."

In school, the governmental “authorities” are painted with a loving and caring brush, and when the child does come into contact with any of them, they all put on their best Sunday faces for the kiddies.

So now even if the child learns to take responsibility for all her actions and is mature enough to take care of herself away from her parents and their now-evaporated authority, will she be able to become an independent human being if she believes in all these mommy and daddy facsimilies and their supposedly legitimate and quite permanent authority?

I think not.

Part II to follow

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tzo's picture
Columnist tzo
Columns on STR: 64

tzo now lives in your head.


Scott Lazarowitz's picture

"Notice this is a temporary authority, as once the child becomes an adult, she no longer has any ethical obligation to obey parental commands."
Many adult children are financially dependent on their parents, especially nowadays. In this instance, they kind of still have to do what the parents tell them.
"Police officers are there to protect us and to enforce the law and must be obeyed."
No, police are not there to protect us. They are there to feed themselves at Dunkin' Donuts and then beat people up.

tzo's picture

"Many adult children are financially dependent on their parents, especially nowadays. In this instance, they kind of still have to do what the parents tell them."
No more than a landlord can tell a tenant what to do. But yes, notice how since all the land is owned by someone else and all the jobs are controlled by someone else and people are not really free to carve out some space and work to support themselves, that one is forced to submit to some type of hierarchical domination relationship.
If an indebted college graduate cannot find work and must live with his parents and be dependent upon them as if he were still a child, then that perpetuates the powerlessness of not being able to control and take care of yourself. Many of those individuals will quite naturally switch on over and look to the government to care for them in exchange for having to do what the government caretakers says.
I might question the strategy of sending a kid to an expensive college on the chance that it might pay off. Considering the downside, is this a good way to prepare kids for an adult life of independence? The old 'send the kid to college because it will pay off' thing has passed. Parents really have to concentrate on thinking about what will really work, not what most everyone else is doing, especially considering that most everyone else is failing.

Glock27's picture

Greetings TZO,

I can not validate this information for it comes from years past but the truth of the matter was that college graduates held higher paying positions than those whom only satisfied themselves with a High School Diploma. To some extent I still have to believe this is still true. Having a degree is a filtering system for the business so they don't have to pitch resumes from high school graduates. Saddly college degrees are not as formable as they once were. Interesting thought, many high school grads managed to come into their own businesses and exceeded the financial expectations of the college grad. Interesting on how life works.

tzo's picture

Some quick surfing finds:
In its most recent survey of college pricing, the College Board reports that a "moderate" college budget for an in-state public college for the 2012–2013 academic year averaged $22,261. A moderate budget at a private college averaged $43,289.

The median starting salary for students graduating from four-year colleges in 2009 and 2010 was $27,000, down from $30,000 for those who entered the work force in 2006 to 2008

Among the members of the class of 2010, just 56 percent had held at least one job by this spring, when the survey was conducted. That compares with 90 percent of graduates from the classes of 2006 and 2007.

about only half of recent college graduates said that their first job required a college degree.

This may be a waste of a college degree, but it also displaces the less-educated workers who would normally take these jobs.

Meanwhile, college graduates are having trouble paying off student loan debt, which is at a median of $20,000 for graduates of classes 2006 to 2010.
...and all the numbers appear to be getting worse.

mjackso6's picture

Contrary to popular belief, not all of the cops out there joined the force to be jack-booted thugs. Some of us, at least, became cops mostly because we enjoy helping/protecting people. Granted, I've come to realize that this is a motive as selfish as any other; it's just a matter of deriving ~pleasure~ from being helpful, feeling that you have purpose in protecting others. It can be a kind of Christ/Superman complex at it's extreme; there's a deffinite 'rush' apart from the adrenaline high when you know that you've made a difference for the better for someone, usually even more so if the person in question never even knows who you are, much less thanks you for whatever you've done. I know that this skirts dangerously close to altruism, but at it's core it's as selfish as any other human endeavor. Ultimately we all do whatever makes us feel best, to include those jack-booted thugs with badges who give us all a bad name.

Jim Davies's picture

Interesting post, mjack.  I don't know whether the belief that people join the force to become licensed thugs is "popular" yet, but suspect it's well on the way and with good cause.
Please don't be worried that the pleasure derived from helping people is close to altruism. Provided it's done for the pleasure and self-respect it brings to you, it's perfectly ethical.
I wonder, though, how much of a typical workday involves "helping" people? - isn't the fundamental nature of a cop's job to exercise authority, on behalf of government? I'd be interested by any improvements you can suggest to the page http://www.theanarchistalternative.info/QuitGov/jobs/police.htm

mjackso6's picture

"I wonder, though, how much of a typical workday involves "helping" people? - isn't the fundamental nature of a cop's job to exercise authority, on behalf of government?"

A lot of it is subjective; you feel as much like you're 'helping' when you hand out a speeding ticket as you do when you organize a search for someone lost in the woods (I've only done that once, and sadly, in the Louisiana summer heat, it was too late by the time we found the person) or stop to assist someone who's broken down on the roadside. Like almost everyone, I grew up with the statist mentality; my father and both grandfathers had been military, and my paternal grandfather had been a police officer for over 20 years, so naturally I grew up weaned on the 'koolaid', a firm 'law and order' person. I fell for the maxim, 'Anarchy is unstable; only the rule of law keeps us from utter chaos,' and for most of my adult life I believed that. I can't say that I didn't get into the law enforcement field at least partly for the adrenaline rush; there's no feeling quite like going into a potentially dangerous situation not knowing whether you'll have to draw your weapon and hopefully ~not~ have to use it, whether you're going to come out walking, laid out on a stretcher or in a body bag, etc. It's also amazing how much you can take for granted while you're still one of the brain-washed; I never felt like an 'agent of the government', imposing draconian standards. I was mostly just amazed that people seemed to constantly need to be reminded to follow standards and laws that were, I thought then, just there for everyone's protection. Honestly, when I look back at that time in my life, I'm amazed by how naieve and narrow-minded I was. It took me years after I retired from the Army to 'detox' and begin to understand just how oppressive the whole thing was, and how security/protection could work so much better if it were taken into the hands of private providers.

Glock27's picture

It never supprises me when people make "Inductively" bigoted remarks about people--in uniform, or whatever. In every field there are crappy examples LEO's included, but it does not imply the whole set is affoul. The sickening thing is that every court across this nation since the late 19th century including the Grand Wizard Court have concluded that police officers have absolutely no authority whatsoever to protect the people. They are exempt from that responsibility. The only thing an LEO can do is to investigate a crime after it has occurred. Rarely are they there to stop a crime and some have, on occassions watched a crime in progress and have done nothing (I can't imagine what was going throught their heads, but they were exonerated after an attempt at being sued). The FBI records indicate that the response time for an LEO to a violent crime is from 5 minutes to 30 minutes. Good luck in catching the fellow. The enigma here is that nothing can be done but to assure that every citizen is armed with an appropriate firearm to defend themselves from attackers. This is the only defense we have. Yeh! We can dial 911 and die but that is not an alternative to me. I'll dial 911 after the event not before. Actually, I'll call my attorney first.

I neither like nor dislike LEO's some are great and some not so.
I have a pm I want to send to get an answer to and this is not the forum for it.

mjackso6's picture

"I'd be interested by any improvements you can suggest to the page."

Well, the page looks pretty spot-on to me. I have puzzled over a couple of things for a while now, though, namely intent and probable cause. I'm very firmly a Voluntaryist these days, and it seems perfectly reasonable to me that one shouldn't use force unless confronted with force. But by the same token, I can't see waiting to be shot before shooting back (as an example; this can apply to almost any transgression against your person/rights) if you ~know for certain~ that someone fully intends to drill you or otherwise do bodily harm. Along those lines, how do you react when someone refuses to allow you into his/her domicile if you're, say, looking for a kidnapping victim and have ~overwhelming evidence~ that he/she is being held in said residence and is in danger of immediate harm? It seems to me that in cases like these, you'd have little choice other than taking actions that violated the 'perpetrator's' rights and then hope like Hell to win the court case.

Jim Davies's picture

Thanks mjack, glad the page looks about right.

As you saw, it calls on those working for government to quit. Send me a PM if you'd prefer to answer this out of the public eye, but if you still wear a government uniform may I ask what plans you have to do that?

In the coming free society, all obligations will be undertaken voluntarily, hence by means of contracts binding two or more parties; so one-party contracts (a.k.a. "laws") will not occur. Therefore "law enforcement" will not occur. Therefore, all cops will be out of a job anyway. Therefore, the sooner the better.

Accidents and medical emergencies will still strike and fires will still burn, so there will still be business opportunities in crewing ambulances and fire services, hence plenty of ways you could gain pleasure by helping folk in need. Also (though I think at a markedly lower level) there will still be some nongovernmental violence, today called "crime", to be handled - perhaps kidnappings.

So there will also be companies that offer services of rescue, detection, apprehension, litigation, resolution etc. Those involved in rescue will have similar problems to the one you mentioned - with two differences: (1) they will not be employed by the same "authority" as operates the court, with attendant expectation of favors, and (2) knowing that, and knowing they have competitors, they will have maximum incentive not to err by breaking in to the wrong house.

Glock27's picture

Cheers Jim,

You are really confusing me now. I have been working on this since the 20th of November and now you go and say "it's perfectly ethical" Why not "perfectly goodness". Are we really haveing problems with semantics. I am not finished with my piece yet maybe another 10 days i hope. lol.

Jim Davies's picture

Yes, Glock. "Perfectly goodness" doesn't look right to me. Ethical is an adjective and goodness a noun; can an adverb like "perfectly" qualify a noun?
Can't find my copy of Strunk & White, so please check in yours and let me know.

Glock27's picture

Semantics. Just as I thought. Goodness does not exist in useage, only good and there its an adverb dating back to the 13th century, the patterns it appears in, in present day English seems to have established themselves in the 19th century. Also finding the beginning of the tradition of reprehending those uses. Confidence assumes a spoken origin here.
All the schoolbooks and many of the college handbooks and other usage books that have been consulted insist that good is an adjective only. The more enlightened commentators recognize the adverb's existence. The correctly associated it primarily with speech. The schoolmasterly insistance on well for the adverb may have contributed to the thriving condition of adverbial good.
Since goodness does not exist in usage I will presume that the -ness addendum to create another word would still apply with any reasonable cognitive consideration. Strunk and White went their separate ways years ago and I don't even believe it is being used anymore. That's why mine is in the give away pile. Adverbial good is still primarily a speech form. It is not likely to be needed in a book review or a doctoral dissertation.
Some nouns are also verbs, adverbs and adjectives. Semantics, semantics, semantics. It's all semantics everywhere you turn.

Glock27's picture

Semantics. Just as I thought.

Thunderbolt's picture

The indoctrination period of public school is the most damaging, even factoring in the religious superstition imposed on children. Great article.

Paul's picture

tso, it's good to hear your own children are no longer in a government school.