Children of the Damned: How We Are ‘Saving’ Our Children by Raising Them to Become Serfs

by | Nov 15, 2000

For almost a century the Soviet Union preached the doctrine of service to “the people.” Toil, sacrifice, and suffer, the Soviet propagandists told their subjects; it is all being done for the good of “the people.” As time went on, of course, the people found that they were not enjoying any of the promised rewards. […]

For almost a century the Soviet Union preached the doctrine of service to “the people.” Toil, sacrifice, and suffer, the Soviet propagandists told their subjects; it is all being done for the good of “the people.” As time went on, of course, the people found that they were not enjoying any of the promised rewards. Why? Because they were too busy sacrificing for “the people.”

Communism has collapsed, but this spirit of senseless sacrifice persists today — in the form of the most innocuous-sounding, uncontroversial bromide mouthed by today’s politicians: the crusade to “save our children.” Under the cover of this irresistible slogan — who wants to be seen as being against children? — President Clinton and others have proposed a host of government controls. The list is practically endless: nationalized health care, expanded welfare for single mothers, censorship of TV and the Internet, volunteerism, massive new tobacco regulations — all of these are justified by appealing to the health and welfare of the nation’s children.

Yet the actual effect of these measures is to deprive our children of the one thing they will need most when they reach adulthood: freedom. And without freedom — the freedom as adults to make their own choices and pursue their own happiness — all of the other benefits that we are supposed to be providing for them are impossible.

In the ideal society of the self-appointed child-protectors, if we believe their claims, all children would be raised in a nurturing, protected environment. Their bodies, in this view, would be healthy, since free health care would be provided by the government. Their minds would be innocent; all violence would be banished from TV, and all “indecency” from the Internet. They would be raised with the minute attention of adult “mentors” rounded up by “volunteerism” campaigns. And, of course, their lungs would be spotlessly clean, because tobacco would be outlawed.

In reality, the promised gains are impossible. How are our children supposed to enjoy the benefits of “free” health care, when government controls are destroying the quality of medicine? How are they supposed to learn or be entertained and inspired, when the nation’s intellectual life is being ruled by the enforcers of an undefined and undefinable “decency? How are they supposed to prepare for their futures when they are ordered not to pursue their own education, but to “volunteer,” sacrificing their time and energy to others? And how, when they are adults, are they supposed to enjoy the benefit of healthy lungs, when their paternalistic government refuses to acknowledge their right to make their own decisions about what is best for their health?

The vicious contradiction behind the “save our children” crusade is the attempt to ensure the health and happiness of our children by ensuring that they will grow up to be servants of the state. Our children are supposed to be “saved” by forcing them — once they reach adulthood, or even before — not to attain their own goals and achieve their own happiness, but to give up their freedom and sacrifice their individual interests. Starting in high school, they will be drafted to “volunteer” in slums, rather than prepare themselves for their own future. When they get sick, they will banned from selecting a doctor or treatment not approved by their state-sponsored HMO. And when they grow up, they will be barred from seeking information on censored Web sites, and will be taxed unmercifully to support a vast welfare state. In short, they will be coerced, restricted, and bled dry — for what? To “save our children.”

Parents should have the right to make the decisions on how to raise their own children — and good parents realize that the purpose of child-rearing is to prepare young people to live independent lives, in pursuit of their own values. But the government wants to take away that choice and turn child-rearing into a process for training the next generation of serfs, a generation indentured to the service of their children.

In the name of the crusade to “save our children,” both children and adults are being damned to the world envisioned by Ellsworth Toohey, the villain in Ayn Rand’s classic novel, The Fountainhead: “Let all live for all. Let all sacrifice and none profit. Let all suffer and none enjoy.” It is time to reject this vicious circle of sacrifice.

Robert Tracinski was a senior writer for the Ayn Rand Institute from 2000 to 2004. The Institute promotes the philosophy of Ayn Rand, author of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead. Mr. Tracinski is editor and publisher of The Intellectual Activist and TIADaily, which offer daily news and analysis from a pro-reason, pro-individualist perspective. To receive a free 30-day trial of the TIA Daily and a FREE pdf issue of the Intellectual Activist please go to and enter your email address.

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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