MCViewPoint

Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Don’t Like Public Monuments?

Posted by Martin C. Fox on August 18, 2017

Sell the monuments, let them be displayed on private property

As with most things, the government should get out of the monument business.

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2017/08/ryan-mcmaken/dont-like-public-monuments/

https://mises.org/blog/privatize-public-monuments

Thus, in a sense, when approaching the problem of government monuments and memorials, we encounter the same problem we have with public schools. Whose values are going to be pushed, preserved, and exalted? And, who’s going to be forced to pay for it?

This problem is further complicated by the fact that these views change over time.

Over time, the “good guys” can change as majority views shift, as new groups take over the machinery of government institutions, and as ideologies change.

In the early days of public schooling — an institution founded by Christian nationalists to push their message — students were forced to read the King James Bible. Catholics were forced to pay taxes so schools could instruct students on how awful and dangerous Catholicism was. Immigrant families from Southern and Eastern Europe were forced to pay for schools that instructed their children on the inferiority of their non-Anglo ethnic groups.

A century later, things have changed considerably. Today, Anglo-Saxons are taught to hate themselves, and while Catholics are still despised (but for different reasons), they now are joined in their pariah status by most other Christian groups as well. Italians and Eastern Europeans who were once treated in public schools as subhuman are now reviled as members of the white oppressor class.

Similar changes have taken place in art and in public monuments and memorials.

In both cases the answer is the same: minimize the role of government institutions in shaping public ideology, public attitudes, and the public’s view of history.

Once upon a time, however, people who actually valued their heritage did not sit around begging the government to protect it for them. Many were willing to actually take action and spend their own money on preserving the heritage that many now rather unconvincingly claim is so important to them.

A good example of the key role of private property in cases such as this can be seen in the work of the Catholic Church in the US — which has never enjoyed majority support from the population or from government institutions. If Catholics were to get their symbols and memorials in front of the public, they were going to have to build them on private property, and that’s exactly what they did.

Be seeing you

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I am not a number. I am a free man!

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