15 June 2008

Confiscating the freedom of some, in order to appropriate the freedom of others

The driving force of socialism is not to provide benefits for anyone, but to destroy individual freedom. By taxation, the state deprives individuals of freedom of action, reducing the territory within which they are able to decide for themselves how to run their affairs, and using the money from taxpayers to buy areas of freedom from other individuals.

This was very clearly shown by the way in which, at 16, I was forced to spend a very damaging year at London University instead of being left alone to take an external London degree (or degrees) with correspondence courses before going to Oxford or Cambridge.

My plans were all made — so far as they could be without some assistance in arranging the practical work that formed part of the courses in physics and chemistry — and my father had expressed willingness to pay for the correspondence courses in question.

I was offered a tutor, apparently spontaneously, by the local authority. I had made no application to them, although it is possible that a treacherous teacher at my Ursuline convent school had done so, which was beyond her rights, since I had left school and was no longer in receipt of a scholarship which might be regarded (and had been regarded) as making it other people’s business to make (and prohibit) decisions and arrangements about my affairs.

This led to an interview which left me with a clear perception that this was nothing I wanted anything to do with. But, as I now realise, the whole thing was motivated by a ravening desire to regain oppressive control of my life, from which I considered myself lucky to have escaped. My plans were aimed at helping myself, so far as was now possible, to recover from the seriously bad effects of the last three years (since being prevented from taking the School Certificate exam — usually for 16-year-olds — at 13).

The local ‘educational’ community stormed, and my father withdrew his support for my plans, making instead, and without consulting me, appalling arrangements for me to go to a college of London University. I had both a state scholarship and a County Major scholarship. The state scholarship was to be kept until I went to Oxford. So now my father, being unwilling to support me against determined opposition by people in positions of ostensible authority, applied for me to be allowed to use the County Major Scholarship to go to London University. If only they had refused! Then I could not have gone, and would have been able to revert to my former plan.

But in fact the education committee was willing to pay (with taxpayers’ money) for me to be forced to do what I did not want to do, losing my self-determination by having inflicted upon me a most horrific year, all the more damaging because it came after three previous years in which I had had no control over my life.

A member of the committee was quoted to me as saying (ironically and hypocritically), as they agreed to buy my life for a year, ‘We wouldn’t stand in her way’.

In fact it would have been better for me if I had never taken up the grammar school scholarship in the first place (aged 10) but had worked on my own to take degrees as soon as possible.

In saying that my father was not willing to support me I do not mean to be critical of him. Who would have been willing directly to oppose socially appointed authorities? It is by no means commonly done and would be extremely difficult to do. My father, for all his aristocratic genes, had been brought up as a poor boy in East Ham, suffering from every sort of neglect and insecurity. I do blame those who used their socially conferred positions of influence to pressurise him into withdrawing his support for my plans, inflicting irreparable damage on my prospects in life, reparation for which should still be regarded as due to me.