The children have been returned to their parents but are under the legal custody of social workers. A judge has rejected the idea of returning legal custody to the parents, even though the children now attend a public school. Why?
The answer: in part to prevent the parents getting visas for their children and moving to another country in which homeschooling is permitted. In other words, to prevent any right of exit from Germany.
In a shocking verdict regarding a homeschool case in Germany, a family court judge has refused to return legal custody of four children to Christian parents to prevent the family from obtaining visas that would allow them to travel to a country where homeschooling is permitted.
The judge made this decision in the name of liberal morality: he fears that if the children are homeschooled they will not become sufficiently tolerant of others:
In his decision, the judge ruled that it was necessary to keep the Wunderlich children in public school for their own “well-being,” arguing that if the children were homeschooled in Germany or abroad they would “grow up in a parallel society without having learned to be integrated or to have a dialogue with those who think differently and facing them in the sense of practicing tolerance.”
Here is a prime example of how a liberal morality doesn't work. In the name of tolerance, a German judge has told a family that they have no right to leave Germany. This brings to mind the situation in the former East Germany, in which citizens were likewise forced to stay. When the Berlin Wall went up in the early 1960s, outraged West Germans called for it to be torn down as an affront to freedom. But now it is not communists but liberals who are denying German citizens a right to exit.
|The Wunderlich family|
And this is despite the fact that a right to exit is the key qualification that liberals themselves specify when considering whether non-liberal communities are acceptable or not. From a liberal discussion of this issue we learn that,
Susan Moller Okin has [said that] "any consistent defense of group rights or exemptions that is based on liberal premises has to ensure that at least one individual right – the right to exit one's group of origin – trumps any group right.' Exit rights, then, are thought to limit the repression of group members and thus to be either sufficient for or necessary to compliance with moral principles.
So "the right to exit one's group of origin" is considered crucial by liberals when determining whether or not a community meets liberal moral standards. The German judge is contravening one core liberal principle (the right to exit) in the name of another (tolerance). He is also imposing an authoritarian principle (no right of exit), previously associated with East German communism, in the name of tolerance.
Liberal morality is not proving to be internally consistent here.
The problem goes back to the fundamentals of a liberal morality. Liberals begin by assuming that an objective good can't be known and that therefore people must self-determine their own subjective goods. For this to work, though, individuals have to be careful not to infringe on the moral choices or the self-defined goods of others - to do so means denying those people their moral agency (disempowering them).
And so liberals have gone on to emphasise as virtues qualities of non-interference, such as respect, openness, diversity, non-discrimination, tolerance and so on. But once these became the liberal virtues, they became the focus and the standard of human moral life, i.e. the new public standard of the good.
But they are problematic as a standard. As pointed out above, it means that moral discrimination is enacted in the name of non-discrimination and that intrusive or authoritarian acts of the state are carried out in the name of tolerance.
Furthermore, these moral standards are too narrow. There is a recognition of "non-interference" as a moral standard, but what about, say, the importance of the connection between parent and child? How can moral decisions be weighted or balanced when only one aspect of a moral situation is considered in terms of moral principle?
This is not to say that there were not moral standards in traditional societies. They tended, though, to be less connected to the state. For instance, let's say that in a traditional society there is an ideal of masculinity, which includes virtues of courage and honour. These are connected to character: a man who was considered cowardly or dishonourable might have been judged negatively, which was no doubt discomfiting, but that would have been thought of as a personal failing - there was no need for the state to get involved.
Liberals, however, have created a state morality: it has become the aim of politics to impose the moral standards of non-discrimination, inclusion, tolerance etc. on society. This aim will inevitably be intrusive and authoritarian, as it requires the state to break apart the usual inclinations of human association - as well as diminishing the authority of non-state institutions and loyalties, such as those of the family.
The German ruling gives us an idea of where all this is going to take us. It is not going to be a place of freedom. It will be a place where we, as disconnected and disempowered individuals (relieved of most of our social functions), will have to accept our place within a closely managed system administered by the state.
Oh, and it seems you won't be allowed to leave for somewhere better.