In the fall of 2009 as another school year started I flipped through the textbook used in Civics at my daughter’s high school in Orleans then decided to take a second look to see what is being taught about rights and government. I have long known our public schools, being creations of a collectivist entity, have a strong bias towards socialism, yet I was surprised and at times almost ill with the actual content of the text and its direct contradiction of Canadian legal foundations.
It started at the very beginning, with the title of the textbook (which I translate from French): “Responsibility, democracy and engagement”. In a section titled “What are the challenges of life in a collective?” students are told government is the vehicle used to take care of our most complex needs such as transportation, health care, defense of our rights and freedoms, epidemics, famines and ecological disasters. It points out that it is difficult to satisfy the needs of all members of the society because what is good for one is not necessarily good for others, so conflicts occur. It invokes environmental and anti-poverty organizations as examples of what makes up “civil society”. It claims that in a democracy all individuals should feel responsible towards other members of the community. The principle of majority rule is discussed as the most equitable way of making rules and settling disputes, even if the minority disagrees. Students are told that if they live in a society that provides “free” health care and other services then they have a responsibility to pay taxes to fund the system and use their abilities for the benefit of the collective.
A full rebuttal would take a book, so I will briefly consider the notion of responsibility to others and the collective. In no way can responsibilities be held as a primary in a man’s life. It is the nature of man that to be alive he must survive, that his reasoning mind is his primary tool for survival and that to use his mind he must be free to act and able to keep what he produces. Thus, the term “inalienable rights” is used to describe the rights to life, liberty and property. If he is born with responsibilities he is not free but is a type of serf or slave. If he wishes to live in a society, expect that his rights will be respected and exchange mutually beneficial production with others, then he must respect their individual rights. Responsibilities can be created by voluntary consent through a mutually satisfactory agreement. Responsibilities cannot morally be forced on an individual since that violates his right to liberty.
Simply because the majority around him votes to implement policies on transportation, health care, education, or ecology using the force of government does not morally bind a child or adult to these policies since it is wrong to use force against an innocent individual. The conflicts the Civics textbook refers to are conflicts inevitably arising when laws are not objective and don’t fully protect individual rights, instead allowing innumerable pressure groups to use government force to create improper laws. These laws force individuals to conform to the wishes of those controlling government and specify punishments for violations. For example, laws that force innocent business owners to make signs in a particular language violate the freedom of the individual to make his own choices in life so long as he does not violate the rights of others. Laws forcing doctors to work for the state and prohibiting a patient from contracting with any doctor of his choosing clearly violate the right to freedom of the doctor and the patient. Laws forcing some people to pay for the living expenses of others are immoral. Those who claim the right to make such laws are claiming the right to violate the rights of others. In such a system there are no objective rights or laws and the system is driven by pressure-group politics, with the largest number ruling over the minorities – and the smallest minority is the individual.
A society that does not make the protection of individual rights its highest law cannot truly be called a free society. Groups and society do not exist as separate entities without individuals, thus there can be no such objective concept as group rights, racial rights, collective rights or any rights that are not agreed to by mutual consent of all the individuals involved. The Civics textbook I refer to is wrong at its very foundation and is teaching young minds to be subservient to the collective. It belongs in the realm of the infamous Borg from Star Trek lore, a race that represents the worst horror for man: to have his mind, born free, submerged in the collective.