Episode 7: Romans 13, Part 2


The Loss of Liberty’s Underlying Principles

Founder of the OPC, J. Greshem Machen, wrote in 1923:
A public school system, in itself, is indeed of enormous benefit to the race. But it is of benefit only if it is kept healthy at every moment by the absolutely free possibility of the competition of private schools. A public school system, if it means the providing of free education for those who desire it, is a noteworthy and beneficient achievement of modern times; but when once it becomes monopolistic it is the most perfect instrument of tyranny which has yet been devised. Freedom of thought in the middle ages was combated by the Inquisition, but the modern method is far more effective. Place the lives of children in their formative years, despite the convictions of their parents, under the intimate control of experts appointed by the state, force them to attend schools where the higher aspirations of humanity are crushed out, and where the mind is filled with the materialism of the day, and it is difficult to see how even the remnants of liberty can subsist.\
Machen wrote from a perspective where he saw this happening in Europe and noticed that the same effect was delayed in America, as he said, by “the remnants of Anglo-Saxon individualism.” Of these remnants, he goes on to say:
… but the signs of the times are all contrary to the maintenance of this halfway position; liberty is certainly held by but a precarious tenure when once its underlying principles have been lost. For a time it looked as though the utilitarianism which came into vogue in the middle of the nineteenth century would be a purely academic matter, without influence upon daily life. But such appearances have proved to be deceptive. The dominant tendency, even in a country like America, which formerly prided itself on its freedom from bureaucratic regulation of the details of life, is toward a drab utilitarianism in which all higher aspirations are to be lost.
Has this not been the trend of our school systems since the time of Machen’s writing? Has their goal not been to produce citizens capable of contributing to the economy and nothing more? And along the way, have they not stifled the higher intellectual pursuits? Long gone are the days of critical thinking and philosophy in public schools. Such things simply cannot be connected to productive output, and so they are disallowed.
Want proof that this is the state of things? I propose a test: simply mention a perspective that doesn’t fit the narrative that was given in school. Question the validity of some State program that was taught as a good and necessary thing in your school years. How quickly will you be called crazy, or worse? Even if, by sound reason and evidence, you can support your position, are you met with equal reason and evidence? Or does your attempt to back up your position provoke an emotional response?