LA Statement on Deterring Truancy by Cutting Child Benefit: "Gateway to a Total State" (2012)

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Libertarian Alliance News Release
Release Date: Monday 16th April 2012
Release Time: Immediate
Contact Details:
Dr Sean Gabb, 07956 472 199,

Truancy and the Total State

The Libertarian Alliance, the radical free market and civil liberties institute, today condemns proposals by the British Government to deter truancy by cutting the child benefit of parents whose children absent themselves from school.

Speaking today in London, Dr Sean Gabb, Director of the Libertarian Alliance, and an international expert on truancy and home education, whose writings have been published by HMSO, denounced this proposal as “another gateway to a total state.”

Dr Gabb said:

The claim that truancy causes crime and disorder, and leads to illiteracy and personal failure, is false. Many illiterates and criminals played truancy. But to make this into a causal claim is as invalid as turning the fact that most shoplifters wear bulky overcoats into a claim that bulky overcoats cause shoplifiting.

Children play truant for many reasons, bullying, bad teaching and bad curriculum are among the most important reasons. In many cases, truancy is a rational response for children who regard their schools as prisons. To regard truancy as a crime is at least inappropriate. It can even harm the education of those children who prefer to learn by themselves.

There is also the question of Britain’s progressive slide, since about 1980, into totalitarianism. The British State knows things about us, and controls our lives, on a scale that is itself incompatible with our free traditions. It is now looking at ways to unify its knowledge and powers of compulsion, so that a law or institution set up for one purpose may be used for any other purpose. The name for this in German is Totalstaat – a word that sounds as bleak and harsh as its meaning. A total state is one in which every individual faces an amorphous mass of power that may be made irresistible in any place and at any time.

Is this what people voted for when they turned out Labour in 2010? If not, can we have our votes back?

End of Copy

Further Relevant Information

Dr Sean Gabb is co-author of the following books and reports:

The Report of the North London Truancy Unit, published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1994 (ISBN 0 11 270870 6

Issues in School Attendance and Truancy, Pitman Press, London, 1995, ISBN 0 273 61686 2

Homeschooling in Full View: A Reader, 2004,  ISBN 1593113382

Don't Fence Me In: Essays on the Rational Truant: The Empty Desk Syndrome, University of Buckingham Press, 2009, 978-0955464263

Note(s) to Editors

Dr Sean Gabb is the Director of the Libertarian Alliance. He is the author of ten novels and ten other books, plus about a million words of journalism. He can be contacted for further comment on 07956 472 199 or by email at

His latest novel, The Break, has been nominated for the 2015 Prometheus Award.

His recent book, Freedom of Speech in England: Its Present State and Likely Prospects, is a defence of freedom of speech without exceptions. 

Or his book, Cultural Revolution, Culture War: How Conservatives Lost England, and How to Get It Back, explains how its current ruling class has turned England into a totalitarian police state, and how this ruling class can be overthrown and utterly destroyed.

Or another of his books, Smoking, Class and the Legitimation of Power, explains how the current "war" on smoking has nothing to do with making individuals healthy, but everything to do with enhancing the power of a totalitarian ruling class, and enriching its relevant client groups.

You can see other books by Sean Gabb here.

Extended Contact Details

The Libertarian Alliance is Britain's most radical free market and civil liberties policy institute. It has published over 800 articles, pamphlets and books in support of freedom and against statism in all its forms. These are freely available at

Our postal address is

The Libertarian Alliance
Suite 35
2 Lansdowne Row
Tel: 07956 472 199