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Some Civics Lessons for My Son

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My son, Thomas Macaulay Boudreaux, is seven years old. He’s the most precious creature in the world to me. My wife, Karol, and I will never indoctrinate him, but we do and we will teach him as best we can. Here’s a list of some of the lessons that he’ll get from me as he grows into manhood.

  • Even in principle, government is not synonymous with society.
  • In practice, government is an enemy of civil society.
  • Even popularly elected government does not in any meaningful sense represent his interests or those of civil society.
  • No one can or will represent his interests as well as he, personally, can and will do so (once he’s an adult!).
  • People who seek political power are, with exceptions too rare to matter, never to be trusted; at best, such people are vain and officious busybodies.
  • People who actually achieve political power are to be trusted even less than those who seek it without success; winning elections requires a measure of deceitfulness and Machiavellian immorality that no decent person comes close to possessing.
  • He owes no allegiance to any government, regardless of the design of its flag or the familiarity of the hymns that it sings to itself.
  • If he is ever asked to die for a government that claims a monopoly over his allegiance, he should politely refuse.
  • In fact, government is not in the habit of asking for anything; instead, government coercively demands. So, if and when government demands that he soldier for it, he should refuse to do so. He should go to Canada, become a Quaker, fake an obsession with homo-necrophilia — that is, he should do whatever he must to prevent brutes in suits from forcing him to risk his life for their cause.
  • Above all, he should be forever skeptical of received wisdoms and truths — but always understand that there is much genuine wisdom and many valuable truths in our world; skepticism is indispensable for sorting these relatively few gems from the pack of impostors.
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    Don Boudreaux is head of the economics department at George Mason University.