Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Changing ideas of liberty

I've been researching the UK's Children, Schools and Families Bill today and I am struck by the encroaching totalitarianism it reflects. Such totalitarianism works on the principle of Continental politics that our liberties are those areas where the Government has acknowledged that we have rights and freedoms.
Under the Old English system, on the other hand, everything was permitted unless specifically prohibited. Under the influence of Europe and modern liberalism, England is quickly approaching the point where everything is prohibited unless specifically permitted. The Children, Schools and Families Bill is a prime example, where home education is illegal in all cases where the state has not specifically granted permission.

The presupposition behind this is that ‘rights’ or ‘freedoms’ are merely negative in so far as they describe areas of self-restriction on the part of the state. A consequence of this false way of thinking is that unconsciously citizens begin to think that the Government actually creates rights and freedoms, whether it be the right to private property, the right to religion or the parents’ right to decide how his child is going to be educated. Indeed, the presupposition behind the European Convention of Human Rights was that the state could create human rights through legislation. Rights and freedoms thus conceived become conditional and can be revoked in order to serve other purposes of the same state. The alternative is to acknowledge that certain freedoms are the natural condition of man because they are God-given. And that includes the freedom - a freedom which the Children, Schools and Families Bill seeks to remove - for a parent to decide what kind of education to give his child.
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