Children and the State

This is the entire text of a 30-second, presumably scripted, commercial for MSNBC, spoken by MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry.

We have never invested as much in public education as we should have, because we’ve always had kind of a private notion of children: “Your kid is yours, and totally your responsibility.” We haven’t had a very collective notion of, “These are our children.” So part of it is we have to break through our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents, or kids belong to their families, and recognize that kids belong to whole communities. Once it’s everybody’s responsibility and not just the household’s, then we start making better investments.

The tag line of the commercial is “Lean Forward,” similar to another one of Obama’s mindless slogans, “Forward.”

Here are some related quotations.

The folkish State … has to make the child the most precious possession of a people. [p. 608.]

Here, too, the folkish State will some day have to intervene by education. Its task is not to preserve the decisive influence of an existing social class, but its task is to pick out of the sum of all fellow citizens the most able heads and to bring them to office and dignity. It has not only the duty of giving the average child a definite education in public schools, but also the duty of placing the talent on the tracks on which it belongs. Above all it has to consider it its highest task to open the doors of the State’s institutes of higher learning to every talent, no matter from what circles they may come. It has to fulfill this task, as only thus out of the stratum of representatives of dead knowledge can grow the talented leadership of the nation. [p. 640–641.]

—Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf. ([1925], 1941. Translation prepared under the auspices of Alvin Johnson. New York: Reynal & Hitchcock.)

On May I, 1937, Hitler replied to these and similar charges by saying, ‘There are some old fools with whom it is too late to do anything. But we take the children away from them! We educate them to be new German people. When the little rascals are ten years old, we take them and form them into a community. When they are eighteen, we still do not leave them alone.’ [From editors’ notes to Mein Kampf, p. 643.]


He picked up the proof and read aloud: “‘The world we have known is gone and done for and it’s no use kidding ourselves about it. We cannot go back, we must go forward. The mothers of today must set the example by broadening their own emotional view and raising their selfish love for their own children to a higher plane, to include everybody’s little children. Mothers must love every kid in their block, in their street, in their city, county, state, nation and the whole wide, wide world—just exactly as much as their own little Mary or Johnny.’” Wynand wrinkled his nose fastidiously. “Alvah?… It’s all right to dish out crap. But—this kind of crap?”
Alvah Scarret would not look at him.
“You’re out of step with the times, Gail,” he said. His voice was low; it had a tone of warning—as of something baring its teeth, tentatively, just for future reference.

—Ayn Rand, ([1943], 1952), The Fountainhead. New York: The Bobbs-Merrill Company. Reprint, New York: Signet, p.587–588.
(Hat tip: Glenn Marcus.)

2 thoughts on “Children and the State

  1. Ron,

    I love how you compare–and I am not being sarcastic here, in case that is incorrectly read into my tone–some seemingly innocuous or benign collectivist bromide (of course to the learned Objectivist we see the poison warnings all over the place), such as, ‘children are the community’s responsibility,’ to some exactly parallel passage right out of the handbook of one of the most viciously contempible mass murderers in history! Keep it up.

  2. How enlightening it is to study history only to find that we are repeating it… I’m reminded of one of my favorite books “The Fourth Turning” by Strauss and Howe. The cycles in history repeat themselves and there is only one way I’m aware of to escape that fate and we are in no position as a nation to choose that way sadly.

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