Sunday, 10 October 2010

What's all this nonsense about statism?

I have noticed lately that one of the buzz words in home education is 'statism'. It seems to have knocked 'conflated' from top position lately in the ramblings of some home educating parents, being used recently as an insult directed against me. I really cannot imagine why home educators have taken to using this term. Statism is to do with strictly centralised government control of people's activities. Graham Badman's recommendations and Schedule 1 of the Children, Schools and Families Bill, on the other hand, put forward a federal solution, where locally elected assemblies would assume power for the monitoring and supervision of elective home education. This is precisely the opposite of statism. Rather than power being centralised by an authoritation government, it is devolved to democratic regional assemblies who would, as now, have a great deal of discretion as to how the edicts from central government were enforced. This may be undesirable, but it is certainly not statism.


  1. You forgot 'narcissism' and 'psychopath' and the use of 'Aspergers' as an insult against anyone who doesn't agree with you. And of course, that old favourite, 'coercive'.

    Mrs Anon
    In a bad mood this morning. Better go and do some gardening to chill out.

  2. 'In a bad mood this morning.'

    Yes, I thought you seemed somewhat more acerbic than usual! But hey, what would I know? It is, as you say, common kowledge that I am a psychopath on the autistic spectrum....

  3. Doesn't federalism include the ability for the locally elected assemblies to make their own laws and have autonomous control of finances? Maybe Scotland and Wales make would count to some extent but Local Authorities? The can make some minor laws of their own laws to some extent (by-laws closing parks by 7pm, for instance, hardly significant) but in the area we are interested in, they cannot (despite what they like to think). Education law is laid down and controlled centrally in England.

    You appear to believe that the state should have ultimate control over children's education - that people belong to the state/society and have to answer to them. You often make a point that if someone becomes unemployed because of their poor education, society pays so they should be able to control that education to prevent this poor outcome. This is consistent with various definitions of statism I've read.

    the principle or policy of concentrating extensive economic, political, and related controls in the state at the cost of individual liberty.

    The political expression of altruism is collectivism or statism, which holds that man’s life and work belong to the state—to society, to the group, the gang, the race, the nation—and that the state may dispose of him in any way it pleases for the sake of whatever it deems to be its own tribal, collective good.

  4. It seems they even agree with you in the area of rights. You have often scorned the idea of 'natural' rights haven't you?

    Some modern political philosophies hold that individual rights are in no way natural or absolute, but that they are social constructs; in other words, rights and freedoms are not assigned by nature or some other higher authority, but by human society itself. For example, we have the right to life not because there is anything natural about it (after all, nature does not condemn murder), but because the majority of the human population has agreed that it is in their common interest to respect this right. Therefore, individual rights cannot be separated from the public good, since the public good is the reason why individual rights exist in the first place. Some statists would say, therefore, that if one accepts that a state is necessary to protect individual rights, then one also accepts that a state is necessary to carry out other actions for the public good. This is the foundation of the majority of "statist" philosophies.

    Maybe you're a statist but you just don't know it yet? And you a Tory, for shame!

  5. 'You have often scorned the idea of 'natural' rights haven't you?'

    No, I wouldn't say so at all. I simply don't acknowledge their existence. I would no more scorn them than I would the Loch Ness Monster or Yeti. You might care to investigate the difference between Legal Positivism and statism if you wish to know my position on this.

  6. "One part of the objection that legal positivism has aroused has been an objection to the implicit, or sometimes explicit, statism inherent in the monistic or monolithic strand of positivism."

    Professor Sir Donald Neil MacCormick, Edinburgh Law School

  7. 'monistic or monolithic strand of positivism."'

    To which I do not subscribe.

  8. What is monistic legal positivism?

  9. Is this your view of legal positivism?

    Statism began to develop during the Renaissance period until it dominated international politics in the nineteenth century. Parallel with the growing dominance of the state in the international system was the rise of the state-centered legal philosophy of positivism. Positivism denied a transcendent moral order and viewed all law as emanating from state legislation and interaction. The state was the central component in the positivistic conception of law. This view of law was directly opposed to the natural law tradition that was so integral to the development of western law and freedom.

    Positivism became the dominating legal philosophy in the 19th and early 20th centuries, and its state-centered conception of law profoundly effected international law. The positivistic view of international law held that only states could be subjects of international law.1 This “subject-based” approach to international law is firmly founded on the doctrine of inalienable state sovereignty. In this positivistic legal framework, state sovereignty prohibited the imposition of legal obligations on states for the purpose of protecting human rights.2 In essence, no longer was there any legal or moral authority higher than the state.