Page:Conventional Lies of our Civilization.djvu/160

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The Political Lie.


Let us take a specimen man of our modern civilization, and examine the relations existing between him and the commonwealth, a man of the people, without family connections or influence to attract the favorable notice of those in power and thus obtain special privileges. I mean of course, a citizen of one of the regularly organized European states. Some portions of the portrait I intend to draw will not apply to this or that special country. The measure of liberty conceded to the individual varies in different places, and so does the form in which the limitations occur. But in the general outlines, my description will give a faithful representation of the place and conditions prepared by our civilization for the average citizen of any European state.

My specimen typical man is at the age when his parents recognize the necessity of attending to the cultivation of his mind. He is sent to the public school. Before he is admitted his certificate of birth must be produced. One would suppose that in order to share profitably in the blessings of public instruction, all that would be necessary would be to live and to have attained to a certain measure of physical and mental development. But this would be a mistake. A certificate of birth is absolutely indispensable. This respectable document is the key to the secrets of reading and writing. If it is not