“The new school law has brought into the open a much bigger issue than the question of homeschooling. No democratic government should have the possibility to abolish a human right through law. There need to be rules to what a government can do. In other countries this is called a constitution. Sweden lacks a true constitution and an elected Swedish government has great freedom to do whatever it wishes,” Himmelstrand explained in the piece.
“Human rights do not have strong support in Sweden,” he added. “In Sweden it is possible for a human right to be abolished in Parliament based on prejudices and ignorance – this is exactly what we witnessed just now. This is the ultimate reason for homeschooling being restricted as close to being fully illegal as can be. The worst part is that the present Swedish government actually used this democratic weakness. It is hard to write in a civilized way what Swedish homeschoolers feel about this.”
Back in the 1960s, leftists confronted with the argument that socialism necessarily subjects a society to totalitarian government control would point to Sweden as the example of “social democracy,” i.e., a democratic country that followed the socialist path. Now we hear the news that “the Kingdom of Sweden took a dramatic turn toward totalitarianism with the adoption of a sweeping new education ‘reform’ package that essentially prohibits homeschooling and forces all schools to teach the same government curriculum.” It also places restriction on religious education, so that religious schools “can’t make any children to pray or confess to the God, but they will still be allowed [to exist]. …”
Given what everyone now acknowledges to be the Obama faction’s socialist agenda, Americans cannot afford to ignore this confirmation of the inevitably totalitarian implications of so-called “European-style” socialism. Control over all aspects of education has always been one of the key elements of totalitarian control, common to both the Nazi/fascist and communist forms of socialist-party dictatorship. Here in the U.S., whiffs of this aspect of the socialist agenda have been noticeable for a long time in the hostility toward homeschoolers that has them prominently featured on the enemies list of leftist Democrats (including Obama’s Homeland Security Department) as well as the NEA.
What especially caught my attention in this report, however, is the featured quote from Jonas Himmelstrand of the Swedish Association of Home Education. He connects the imposition of totalitarian government control over education in Sweden with the fact that Swedish law and politics do not operate on the basis of the concept of constitutional government. They are not formed and constrained by the principle that to be legitimate the powers of government must operate within limits that respect the rights of the people. This allows the government to legislate without regard for the unalienable rights connected with parental responsibility for the care and upbringing of children.
In Sweden, the government decides what is and is not good for children. Though the laws are produced by an ostensibly democratic process (an elected legislature passing laws by majority rule) the law may in any given instance abrogate the prerogatives of individuals in every area of life for the sake of whatever goals and purposes the legislative majority at the time determines to be good. There are no individual or other unalienable rights because there are no permanent principles of justice, no permanent determinations of what is right, that apply and must be respected at all times and in all the government’s laws and actions.
In this respect Sweden reflects the weakness of the European implementation of democracy. For the most part, in continental Europe democratic institutions replaced absolute monarchies. Democratically elected legislatures simply took control of the whole power of government, as it had been conceived and wielded by the absolute monarchs who preceded them. The requirements of democratic politics and coalition-building may lead to results that give greater consideration to the demands of this or that group of people, but, as such, politics is not the activity of sovereign citizens, whose will as expressed in the votes they cast represents the authority on which the government depends for its legitimacy.
Before the advent of democratic institutions, the sovereign power of government was generally embodied in one person, the monarch. As the monarch was the source of the law’s authority, the law had no power over his person. Any action taken by the monarch (including actions otherwise treated as contrary to law) were presumed to be lawful because they were sanctioned by the will of the sovereign. After the establishment of democracy, sovereignty (i.e., the power to determine what is lawful) has no individual embodiment. It is expressed only in the form of the laws duly enacted by the legislature. There are no individual rights that take precedence over the law because there can be no presumption of right (no claim that a given choice or action is right) apart from these duly enacted laws.
What many Americans fail to realize (through ignorance or inattention) is that the American understanding of democratic government differs fundamentally from this European construct. In the United States, the actions of every person enjoy the presumption of lawfulness reserved under the old European regimes to the monarchical person. This is what the presumption of innocence is all about. This presumption of innocence arises in connection with the fact that every individual has, by virtue of the laws of nature and Nature’s God, unalienable rights, i.e., actions it is right to take because they are authorized by the command of the Creator. In this respect, individuals enjoy sovereign immunity until and unless it can be shown that they have violated a just law, that is, a law that in form (the way it is formed or made) and substance (its particular provisions) respects the provisions of the Creator. Only the violation of such a law places them outside of the presumption of right that otherwise precludes interference with their actions.
The framers of the U.S. Constitution intended to craft a framework for government that takes account of the Creator’s provisions for justice, both in the substance of its provisions (the separation of powers, an elected legislature, an independent judiciary, federalism and the residual sovereignty of the States or the people, etc.) and in their implementation (the system of checks and balances, periodic elections, the Bill of Rights, etc.). The resulting Constitution extends a presumption of lawfulness (legitimacy) to the actions of the U.S. government so long as they respect the requirements of the Constitution.
Everywhere it has been implemented socialism has required overturning the presumption of innocence that is the bedrock foundation of individual freedom, rightly understood. The American understanding of democratic government is therefore incompatible with “European” or any other brand of socialism. Once we realize this, it becomes clear that the Obama faction cannot implement its socialist agenda without overturning the Constitution of the United States. They must do so with respect to particular provisions that interfere with their agenda (like respect for individual parental rights, the right to keep and bear arms, the right to own property without fear of unlawful confiscation, etc.). They must also do so with respect to the framers’ original intention: establishing a government with powers limited by respect for God-ordained rights. As they proceed, we will discover that the velvety socialist Sweden leftists invite us to visit is far different from the iron-hard totalitarian reality in which they will force us to live.