Under new guidance opposition to capitalism will be barred from England's schools. The Times columnist Daniel Finkelstein approves, writing that “enemies of capitalism have no place in school”. It mirrors Trump’s recent announcement of a “1776 Commission” to promote “patriotic education” in the US, or Victor Orban’s February announcement of a national school curriculum reflecting “Hungarian values”. School curricula have become flashpoints for populist regimes around the world.
The Department of Education’s new policy goes much further than any British government during the cold war. It goes further than Prevent, the 2011 anti-radicalisation programme which gave the state new authority to review curricula.
So why target anti-capitalism?
Movements such as Occupy and Extinction Rebellion have attracted mass followings with their systematic critiques of capitalism, inequality and environmental crisis. The appeal of such movements to young people may have motivated the government to act.
In 1954, Hartley Shawcross, British prosecutor at the Nuremburg trials, praised British “doctrines of toleration and liberty” that gave citizens “the right even to attack our whole system of government”. “We have refused to allow ourselves to be stampeded by fear,” he said.