21 March 2008

My to-do list

  • 1. Destroy marriage
  • 2. Destabilise family life
  • 3. Flush civilization down the drain
That is what my to-do list must look like, if this blog is to be believed:

Contact Online Weblog: How the decline of marriage is destroying our pupils:
Do we realise that the liberal agenda is destroying our children and probably our civilisation is going down the drain too....faster than we think - in South Africa as well.
And it goes on to quote an article that says

The decline of marriage is leading to widespread underachievement and indiscipline in schools, teachers warned yesterday.

Children with "chaotic" home lives turn up at school too troubled to learn, wrecking their prospects of success in exams, they said.

Growing numbers are being brought up in splintered families by mothers with children by different fathers, leading to behaviour and mental health problems including eating disorders and suicidal thoughts, a teachers’ conference heard.

Since I am a liberal, and those are the items on "the liberal agenda", they must be high on my to-do list too.

Now with all due respect to my blogging friend who wrote that (and he is a friend), terms like "the liberal agenda" used like that do not facilitate communication, but impede it.

The use of the definite article -- "the" liberal agenda -- imply that those items are high on the list of priorities of every single liberal in the world. All liberals everywhere are out to destroy marriage, families and civilization.

Well, I know Mr Vorster believed that, but as Jonty Driver, a South African student leader, said when Mr Vorster called him a "leftist", "It is no shame to be called a leftist by such a prominent rightist".

It was Mr Vorster's National Party government, with its conservative right-wing agenda, that deliberately set out to destroy family life through influx control and the migratory labour system. And it was a prominent South African Liberal, Alan Paton, (who was national president of the Liberal Party, so if anyone's agenda was liberal, it was his) who ran a school for juvenile delinquents and was fully aware of the effects of the destruction of family life in hindering children's learning.

I am heartily sick of the calumniation of liberals and liberalism in this fashion, by such vicious lies and innuendoes.


douloijohanna said...

They're not sniping at you. Remember, in U.S. Politics a "Liberal" is a Socialist/Communist. In U.S. politics, a classical liberal -- which you are -- would be called a "libertarian." (most of the time)

douloijohanna said...

P.S. I'm of course assuming that the U.S. politico-speak is being exported around the world. We seem to soil words and warp their meaning, ruining them for English speakers everywhere. Even the word "libertarian" doesn't mean "classical liberal" in a lot of modern usage.

Steve Hayes said...


The blog I was quoting was a South African one, and, as I noted, Alan Paton was as good a representative of South African liberalism as any, and his "liberal agenda" was precisely the opposite of the slur posted in the blog.

But, come to that, yes, I'm also sick of the American discourse that seeks to misrepresent liberalism, and also libertarianism. Classical libertarianism is the belief in free will, as opposed to determinism, whereas modern American libertarianism seems to include a large dollop of free-market fundamentalism.

I think that one of the sources of this language pollution is the "clash of civilizations" taking place within the Anglican Communion, which is perhaps a microcosm where one can observe the process. You'll probably find that "the liberal agenda" is a kind of shibboleth used by one or other faction in that squabble, a sort of code word that has a particular meaning to insiders, even though it may mean little, or something completely different, to outsiders.

But the fact is that it slanders liberal educationists like Alan Paton (who was also, ironically enough, an Anglican), but whose concerns were precisely the opposite of those implied by the Contact Online blog. Working with juvenile delinquents, Alan Paton was only too well aware of the bad effects of the breakdown of family life on learning, and to impute to him and other liberals a deliberate intention of breaking down family life, as the Contact Online blog does, is really a malicious libel.


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