Friday, August 18, 2006

How Did We Get Here?

Another hot button issue of the day is the announcement by Justice Minster Vic Toews that he plans to examine lowering the age of criminal responsibility from 12 years to 10 years, to enable the criminal justice system to better intervene with the younger and younger offenders we are now seeing. Predictably, howls of protest emerge from the left-wing, and from the criminal-rights lobby. Also predictably, some on the right are already bellowing for more jails, more jailed criminals and get-tough measures for youth crime. It's easy to get caught up in an argument like this one that very quickly spins into a tornado.

Having reflected for a couple of days since this announcement, though, the question that I feel is of much more importance is, how the heck did we end up here in the first place? What kind of society have we built, when we even need to consider charging ten year olds with crimes such as vandalism, auto theft, even occasionally crimes of violence?

Over the last fifty years, all western societies have seen a progressive slide in the standards of behaviour expected of their citizens, and most especially of their children.

Standards in education have slipped inexorably over the same period, so that children today are less literate and less numerate than they were in Victorian England. I have some teaching materials from 1923 for elementary schools in Canada, that I picked up in an antique store - and most high-school graduates of today would be hard pressed to complete the exercises expected of those 1923 10 year old students.

Why have we seen this decline in discipline, decency and education? Our people are just as smart as they always were; our technology is far superior. Oughtn't our society to be improving, not crumbling?

Over the same period, we have seen the boundaries of socialism moving forward little by little, even in countries with what some might call 'conservative' government. Here in Canada, for example, socialism has established a baseline position that no government can truly roll back. Our health system, education system and most other institutions are socialist in principle; they have socialism built into their design, they are run by socialists and the people who work in them belong to socialist unions pursuing socialist political goals.

With the ever increasing encroachment of socialism come the three great lies on which it is founded:

  1. All People Are Equal

    Well, no, they really aren't. Some are smart, some are not. Some are practical, some are not. Some are mechanically inclined, some are not. Some work hard, some do not. Some are kind and good, others are not. Socialism, however has as its fundamental goal the elimination of difference. Socialist institutions take no account of the differences in people's abilities, intelligence, or willingness to contribute. Everybody must benefit, regardless of their contribution. Conversely, achievement, aspiration, dreams and the spiritual must be squashed, because they tend to reinforce difference, not to eliminate it.

    When I was in university, the Cold War was still going on. One of my lecturers was a Soviet defector. He'd been a Colonel in the GRU, the Soviet foreign intelligence service, who defected to the UK. We knew him only as Andrew Bain. We were eager to learn a lot from him - he taught us a lot about Soviet weaponry and tactics, which I won't repeat, but I vividly remember him talking about everyday life. One of us asked him to describe the differences between the life of, say, a plumber, in Moscow versus New York. He said, "Essentially, there is no difference in day-to-day life, but in New York the plumber can have a dream."

  2. The State Will Take Care Of You

    Socialism (and Liberalism in Canada) preaches the replacement of individual responsibility with collective responsibility. The state will take care of your health needs; the state will take care of raising your children; the state will take care of you if you don't have enough money or material possessions. Sounds good, doesn't it? But it's a lie. The state can never realise this aim. There isn't enough money in the world and there are simply some things (like raising children) where the state cannot do what individuals can do for themselves.

  3. You Can Level Up

    This lie follows on from lie number 2. Socialists would have us believe that when you force equality on a population in any given context, you can raise everyone's experience to the same level. Despite this mantra being contrary to common sense, mathematics, economics, science and experience, socialist politicians continue to peddle it. Experience alone shows that whenever anything is 'equalized', this leads to the lowest common denominator of achievement - particularly where this lie meets lie number 1.

It is lie number 2 that has led to the gradual erosion of the quality of child rearing in this country and the consequential fall in educational standards and rise in youth crime. Parents used to raise their own children and used to teach them right from wrong. Society was made up of concerned individuals, who cared enough to work hard in the pursuit of these goals. Now, many believe that the schools, the social services, the day care centre, some faceless government entity should do this for us. Parents have given up in many cases, particularly among the less well-off and less well educated. Ironically, socialism is making life harder for the very people it is supposed to help.

However, the schools (and the Liberal toddler institutions that, thankfully, we avoided) can't raise our children. Teaching right from wrong is a tough process that starts when a child is born and takes constant effort, every hour of every day. It's not done by singing happy socialist anthems round the piano in the daycare; it's done by one-on-one loving care of a child, with positive encouragement for good behaviour and consequences for bad. Especially with young children, it needs to be in the moment and immediate. And it needs to be accompanied with love, security and trust. An institution simply cannot provide this; it fails. And as it fails, children grow up with less trust, less security and less concept of right and wrong. From being institutionalised, children learn that consequences for bad behaviour can be avoided by stealth, or if they do exist, they are dilute and weak and powerless.

Socialism has promised to raise our children for us, but it can't deliver. The abandonment of parental responsibility that the socialists have encouraged over the last 50 years has put us where we are.

We can debate endlessly how to fix it - the debate sparked by Vic Toews is but one example. However, the insidious creep of socialism is reflected in the fact that the current discussion concerns only different variations on the same, institutional, government based solutions. Government institution, or government social worker. Those are the choices we're being offered. The socialists have won this one, and our children are the losers.