There are two key social movements in modern society: the movement to make society more subject to politics and the movement to make society less subject to politics. The former movement is called socialism (it would be better called “politicism”). The latter movement has no single name but is called conservatism more than other names. In the French Assembly the royalists sat on the right and the radicals sat on the left, so socialists have come to be called the Left and non-socialists called the Right.
Historically, socialism burst on the scene with the French revolution, although precursors and related movements have earlier roots. Historically, conservativism as a political philosophy began as a reaction to the French revolution, although it has much older roots. In Europe, conservatives were identified with defenders of the “old regime”, the monarchy. In America, the monarchy ended with the American Revolution so there is no “old regime” to return to but there are cultural, economic, and religious traditions inherited from European roots that could be re-invigorated.
Today socialism has won most of its aims as stated in the nineteenth century, which were primarily economic. There are new aims now, particularly since the New Left surpassed the Old Left in the latter part of the twentieth century. These new aims are primarily cultural and moral.
The situation today in many developed societies is a high degree of politicization. There is little that is not politicized anymore: education, science, culture, morality, religion–all are influenced by the political order, subject to the political order, and commonly understood in political terms.
Carl von Clausewitz’s famously wrote “War is a mere continuation of politics by other means (Der Krieg ist eine blosse Fortsetzung der Politik mit anderen Mitteln). While there is some dispute about what he was trying to say, it suggests that politics can be continued in other ways, which is what socialism does.
With few exceptions, education historically has been a private matter, often conducted by religious organizations. The nineteenth century saw the spread of government-funded schools under the banner of education for all. These state schools (also called “public schools” in the U.S.) started with primary schools and expanded to include secondary schools and later state universities. Since World War II, state support for education has grown enormously.
Science, at first called natural or experimental philosophy, was originally conducted by individuals who were either independently wealthy or were supported by patrons. As science became more organized and professionalized, it was increasingly shaped by the state starting in the nineteenth century. State support was promoted on utilitarian grounds, and later on grounds of national security. Since World War II, state support for research in science and technology has grown enormously.
Naturalistic thought burst upon the political stage with the French Revolution. It spread from there to the scientific associations and then to state-supported education and science. Compared with centuries past in which the state supported religious education (and the science of the day indirectly), now the state supports naturalistic thought. Teachers promote a worldview that is at odds with non-naturalistic religion. Children are routinely subjected to the state’s naturalistic moral philosophy. The state school system is effectively a state religion.
The politicization of education, science, and religion follows from their state support. The state will not support activities that are contrary to its policies, and organizations supported by the state have a strong self-interest in influencing the state. Educational unions promote greater support for state education. Scientific organizations promote greater support for state science. And the state religion promotes state expansion into every area of life.
What conclusions can we draw from this? We should expect that politics will become even more insolent than it already is since ever more is at stake in elections and political decisions. We should expect that education will become more blatantly political and that privately-financed alternatives to state education will be forbidden. Similarly, we should expect that science will become more blatantly political and that alternatives to state science will be forbidden. Also, we should expect that religion will become more blatantly political and that alternatives to state religion will be forbidden.
The end of socialism is totalitarianism.