Peak nativism in the United States came in the early 20th century when anti-Catholic Know-Nothings and the Ku Klux Klan pushed through a law in Oregon to require all school-aged children to attend public schools.
The Oregon public schools at the time apparently had a curriculum which the Klan found suitable for turning Americans who happened to be Catholics into real ’muricans, or at least what reactionaries thought of as “real Americans” at the time. The United States Supreme Court thankfully struck this law down in 1925, but the KKK continues to take family school choice away to this day through state constitution Blaine Amendments.
Not to be outdone, the British Labour Party of **checks calendar incredulously** 2019 have adopted the stance that British private schools should not only be closed, but their assets seized. The motivations of the British Labour Party are different than those of early 20th century American nativists – more Joseph Stalin than Nathan Bedford Forrest. Variations in motivation do not, however, make such a proposal any less destructive.
Britons should ponder whether they wish to live in a society in which private associations can be barred from meeting and their assets seized. If that sounds a bit totalitarian, it’s only because it is, in fact, entirely totalitarian.
Is there any limit to such state power? Which groups might constitute the next enemy of the state to get such treatment? What would prevent, for instance, a future Conservative government from banning unions and seizing their assets?
You’ll get no defense of the British class system from this American, but I’m happy to offer a defense of liberalism and self-determination. It is worth noting, however, that Britain had a publicly funded system for aiding low-income families wishing to attend private schools known as assisted places. This system was abolished in 1997 by (wait for it … ) a Labour government.
Some 22 years later, a union-led abolishment movement complains that private schools are excessively exclusive. Step 1: Make problem worse; Step 2: Blame someone else for worsening problem to justify rash action.
The Tories, meanwhile, created an equivalent to charter schools back when they were in coalition with the Liberal Democrats in the form of “free schools.” More recently, they have proposed converting all public schools into free schools. They should pass an improved version of the assisted places policy for good measure. Labour meanwhile opposes free schools and desires to abolish private education and loot the assets of the schools.