When a country works reasonably well – when the schools teach algebra and not governmentally mandated Appropriate Values, when the police are scarce and courteous, when government is remote and minds its business and works more for the benefit of the country than for looters and special interests, then pledging to it a degree of allegiance isn’t foolish. Decades back America was such a country, imperfect as all countries are, but good enough to cherish.
As decline begins, and government becomes oppressive, self-righteous, and ruthless yet incompetent, as official spying flourishes, as corruption sets in hard, and institutions rot, it is time to disengage. Loyalty to a country is a choice, not an obligation. In other times people have loved family, friends, common decency, tribe, regiment, or church instead of country. In an age of national collapse, this is wise.
A fruitful field of disengagement might be called domestic expatriation – the recognition that living in a country makes you a resident, not a subscriber. It is one thing to be loyal to a government that is loyal to you, another thing entirely to continue that loyalty when the Brown Shirts march and the government rejects everything that you believe in. While the phrase has become unbearably pretentious, it is possible to regard oneself as a citizen of the world rather than of the Reich.
Home schooling is an admirable form of disengagement for those who cannot physically expatriate. The primary schools once taught enough of reading and arithmetic, and little enough of medioccritizing propaganda, as to render them other than pernicious. Today, no. Here it is worth reflecting, contrary to governmental insistence, that schools are needless, at least for bright children. An intelligent child quickly reads several years ahead of his grade level, at which point school becomes only an obstacle. He will be savagely bored, regard his teachers as imbeciles, and learn nothing that justifies his being there but much that justifies being somewhere else. In the deepening twilight, home-schooling becomes almost a responsibility, a parallel to medieval monks copying Greek manuscripts.